New Ciders Available
May/23/2014 10:46 PM
Two of our new hard ciders are out at retailers now. They are a result of over a year of work by the apple trees, we the orchardists/cider makers, and our yeast. The trees did their part from March to October of 2013, flowering and attracting pollinators, and then slowly growing the fruit as they gather energy from the sun and nutrients and water from the soil. We as orchardists helped keep disease and insect predators down to a reasonable level, and thinned fruit so the trees could put more energy into each apple. Once the apples were ripe, we picked the fruit, pressed the juice out of it, and stored it in tanks away from oxygen so the resident yeasts could turn the sugars into alcohol. Our task over the winter was to monitor the yeasts’ progress, assess flavors and mix the juice from different apples to attain the blend we were looking for. Once that fermentation had finished and we blended the cider to our satisfaction, we added hop flowers to some (that we grew and then stored in the freezer), barrel-aged some, and left some alone. Our last step was to add some maple syrup we made in spring of 2014, bottle and label the cider. It was the yeasts’ turn one more time, to ferment the sugars from the maple syrup we added to provide some carbonation to the finished product. This process is at last close to done, which is why we have released the Sparkling and Hop ciders. Our ciders can be found at Provisions in Northampton, Ryan and Casey in Greenfield, and Cold River Package in Charlemont.
You may notice there is no step along the way that kills yeast or stabilizes the cider. Right now, the yeast in the Sparkling cider in particular is still active, slowly converting the remaining sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Over the course of the summer, we expect the Sparkling cider to gain effervescence and lose the touch of sweetness it currently has. Wild yeast often ferments sugars at a fairly slow rate, relative to commercial yeast strains, which allows us as consumers to experience the cider at different parts of its flavor spectrum from sweet to dry, bubbly to still. This experience is nearly nonexistent in our era of standardized food and drink, where there is an expectation for every item to be identical regardless of the season, the age, the growing conditions. Our ciders buck that trend, as they will change slowly over time even after they are in the bottle, and they will also vary year to year depending on which apple varieties are fruiting, growing conditions, and which yeast strains are dominant. Cheers!