Tannic apples make best cider

Wednesday October 10, 2012

High tannin apples make complex, great tasting cider.

John Vittori said he grows mainly New England apples for cider at Hilltop Orchard in Richmond although he does have some varieties of English cider apples.

His Johnny Mash American cider is made of a blend of Northern Spy and McIntosh apples.

"We usually incorporate Golden Russets and other late-harvest apples like Northern Spy and Stayman’s Winesaps into our Apple Ice Wine. These are old, antique New England apples [except the Winesaps]. We also sell them retail, we just have limited quantities," Vittori said.

"Golden Russets have a very nice balance of tannins and acidity. Our French Cidre is primarily, 80-percent, Golden Russet."


Jonathan Carr at Carr’s Cider House in North Hadley said he grows "intensely-flavored apples of high sugar content."

"We have seven varieties of apples now: Golden Russet, Goldrush, Liberty, which are American, and European apples: Kingston Black, the most famous English cider apple; [two other English apples] Dabinette and Yarling ton Mill; and a modern [French] variety, Florina Que rina.

"The modern varieties are all highly disease-resistant and they all make excellent hard cider. Florina Querina is sweet and aromatic."

"My intention is to use some of them as single variety ciders. Kingston Black and Golden Russet make great single variety ciders although I have not produced them yet," he said.

"The Golden Russet, as a cider, has a distinct, unique flavor, It’s very rich and has well-balanced acidity. There is a transformation when it be comes cider. When you are eating a Golden Russet, it has a sparkling acidity and a pineapple flavor. We have Golden Russet as part of our Apple Pommeau cider blend," their sparkling fortified sweet dessert hard cider, Carr said.


Judith Maloney does not grow apples for their looks or their fresh taste at her West Country Cider in Colrain. Hers are not eating apples. They are strictly for cider making.

Maloney makes a single-apple Redfield cider and a single apple McIntosh cider some years, although they will not be in this year’s roster of West Country ciders because of losses in last April’s freeze

West Country also lost their Reine de Pomme, a small bittersweet cider apple which she called an archaic French apple.

But later blooming apples survived, Maloney noted. "We got all of those. We make them all into cider."

She said they grow Russets, another antique apple with golden brown skin; and Bald wins, also a cider apple.

"We have old apples, apples people grew for pressing that would add a dimension to your cider," she said. "There’s a whole world, now, of people interested in old apples for pressing."


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