Cider: Everything you need to know

Cider Can Being Opened

Cider is typically synonymous with the Southwest regions of the UK and summers spent by the beach, at festivals or in the pub. However, the origins of cider go back a long way, certainly well before the idea of music festivals or surfing ever existed.

The discovery of Cider

The first recorded reference to cider dates back to Julius Caesar’s attempt to invade Britain in 55 BCE where he found the native Celts fermenting crab apples to make into cider – a discovery Caesar would then take back to continental Europe. You would be forgiven to assume that the humble apple originated in the UK itself, considering cider originated here, however all UK apples originate from the Malus sieversii, a wild apple that is native to the mountains in southern Kazakhstan. The Romans then discovered them growing in Syria, and took them from the East to West using the Silk Road as a means of transport.

Apples back in the day didn’t tend to get eaten because they were often too bitter, so they would get pressed instead for the juice and left to ferment, and so cider was created. Farmhouse cider, or scrumpy cider became a common drink as it was usually safer than water, and farm hands would even get paid for their week’s work in cider.

Cider Bottles

How is cider made?

Fast forward to modern day, and the process of making good cider making remains much the same as it always has. It all starts in the orchards where the apple trees are painstakingly tended before choosing the perfect moment for harvest, where the apples are picked and then sorted to ensure the very best are chosen. Then comes the important part, the fermentation, a process which takes the apple juice and transforms it to cider. This happens through the process of turning the sugar from the fruit into alcohol by the action of yeast and after suitable maturation,  the juice then turns to cider.

Cider has been hugely popular in the UK for centuries, in fact the UK drinks more cider than all other countries in the world combined, however not too long ago it decreased in popularity. This was because it became associated with under-age drinking, and anti-social behaviour due to its cheap price point, and drinkability. However, it’s recently seen a renaissance thanks to the drink being reclaimed as a back-to-basics natural beverage, after the damaging era of mass-production, artificial flavourings and preservatives. Consumers are now seeing cider in a different light, and are appreciative of the more sophisticated options, and wider choice of craft and fruit cider available.

At Sandford Orchards, we pride ourselves in offering something for every cider drinker. We were founded in 2002 as a family run business and in that time have always remained independent. Our apples are grown in the beautiful rich red soils of Devon, which has a unique microclimate to enable us to produce some of the finest bittersweet apples in the world. We press and ferment the juice from our locally sourced fruit, never adding any artificial flavours, or aromas. We simply let the apples do the talking, and allow the cider age to absolute perfection.

Cider has been around for millenia, and our process at Sandford Orchards has always stayed as close as possible to the method used by cider makers from years gone by, especially those who used our mill  before we did. We’re part of an unbroken chain of ancient knowledge and skills passed down the centuries, a humbling job which demands our respect.  We are incredibly proud to be sorting, fermenting and bottling our apples and cider at The Cider Works in the oldest working cider mill in the UK, and to be faithfully following the example of generations of Devon cider makers before us.

Bottles of Cider

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