Making Cider: An American Tradition
In the United States, the word cider originally referred to distilled apple juice (containing alcohol). During Prohibition, the U.S. government banned alcoholic drinks, but promoted the sale of “cider.” They were not, however, encouraging consumption of traditional “cider.” Instead, the government was calling apple juice (no alcohol content) “cider.” The hope was to replace the beloved, American alcoholic beverage with non-alcoholic, fresh-pressed apple juice.
Today, due to the legacy of Prohibition, Americans still refer to apple juice as “cider.” To eliminate confusion, we refer to any of our cider with an alcohol content as “hard cider” and any of our cider with no alcohol content as “fresh cider.” All of our cider is made from apples that are grown on the farm. The apples ripen starting in August, and this ripening continues until November.
During these four months, we pick the apples as each variety ripens, and let the picked apples “sweat” (leave piles of picked apples to sit for at least three weeks—some apples, such as the Newtown Pippin, require four to six weeks—which allows the apples to fully ripen). While the apples “sweat,” complex flavors and aromas develop, which contributes to our ciders’ depth and fullness. Additionally, the water content of the apples decreases, increasing the sugar concentration of the apples (a crucial factor when it is time to ferment for our hard cider blends). Once the apples are fully ripened, we press them and begin the fermentation process.
Distillery Lane Ciderworks started selling hard cider in 2010. All of our cider is produced on the farm, and all of it comes from the specialty cider apples that we grow on our property (for more information about the apples, please see our page “The Apples”).
Our hard cider is naturally fermented and we culture-blend our cider to balance sweetness, tartness, and acidity. The hard cider ranges in price from $9 to $25 per bottle. For home brewers, we also sell fresh juice that one can ferment at home. Find all of our cider varietals at The Cider.
Want to learn more about making cider? Looking for a great gift for a homebrewer? Take our cider making class or buy a certificate to give as a gift. Click the link to learn more: Cider-Making Class at DLC.
Pictured right: Fresh cider keeping cold in the refrigerator. Once apples have been allowed to fully ripen, we press them. It takes approximately thirty minutes to press thirteen to fourteen bushels of apples (there are about ninety apples per bushel). Each press (the thirteen to fourteen bushels) yields around thirty-five gallons of juice. After the apples are pressed, we take the pressed juice and use it in our fresh and hard cider production. The pomace (the pressed apples, seeds, and skin) goes to local dairy and pig farmers to feed to their animals. For fresh cider, we simply bottle the pressed juice at this point. Hard cider involves several more steps. First, we ferment the juice (special yeast are added for this process). Fermentation takes a minimum of two weeks (and can take up to six weeks) and results in a hard cider with a seven to eight percent alcohol content. After fermentation, we “rack” the cider. Cider naturally has a lot of sediment, and during fermentation, the sediment settles at the bottom of the barrels. We carefully filter out the cider, leaving the sediment in the barrels. Please contact us for more details!