Maple Hard Cyder

Indulge me while I wax poetic on the season:

Court of Autumn

Noble trees stand in the Court of Autumn, dressed in shades
of orange and red
Vigilant Pines act as Royal Guard, stand stiff amongst their
peers, ever green
The forest is strewn with a patchwork of color, leaves
fallen, vibrant yet dead

Cold crisp silence fills the air, a hush the order, sound the
wind would dread
Jack Frost paints his craft on window, both crystal lead and
fine silver sheen
Noble trees stand in the Court of Autumn, dressed in shades
of orange and red

Pumpkins congress across open fields, while squashes lounge
in their earthen bed
Days grow colder, nights grow longer and soon the sun will be
lesser seen
The forest strewn with a patchwork of color, leaves fallen,
vibrant yet dead

Lord Autumn dances as Summer departs, no sign yet of Old man
winter ahead
Birds process south as sheep put coats on, squirrels sleep
high bundled serene
Noble trees stand in the Court of Autumn, dressed in shades
of orange and red

I walk this path through Court of Autumn, a coat on my back,
a hat on my head
A stranger in gray traveling through color, oblivious the
visitor site unseen
Noble trees stand in the Court of Autumn, dressed in shades
of orange and red
The forest strewn with a patchwork of color, leaves fallen,
vibrant yet dead

by Kythe Szubielka (C) Sept 17,2003

Poem Style: 14th C Vilanelle w Double Couplettes

_________________________________________________________________________________

Alrighty, well with Fall comes 2 recipes I do every year: Maple Hard Cyder and my Pumpkin Stout.

Today is the Maple Hard Cyder:

I have the luck of knowing someone with 5 apple trees which are heirloom variety apples.  1 Tree is an original Delicious (not those plastic looking apples you see today), 1 tree is a Esopus Spitzenburg (rumored to be Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple) , The other two however are Macintosh and the last tree is a Harralson.  The Haralson’s are a crossbreeding of  18th Century Malinda variety with Wealthy apple variety as the likely pollen parent.

On top of this, I get to use an 18th century Cider Press to press them:

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So first we cleaned the Cider Press because it had been stored in a barn for the last 2 years.  We had used this 2 years ago when there was a bumper crop of apples.  It took us all day to process 5 wheelbarrows of apples into 17 gallons of cider.  Hard work, and we were prepared to do it again last year but the winter storms guaranteed almost no apples.  This year was a recovery year.  The trees still weren’t as full as 2 years ago but we got 3 wheelbarrows out of them this time around.

apple3 apple1 apple2

Ah the sweet taste of the fruits of our labors

Ah the sweet taste of the fruits of our labors

So of course we had to taste the first squeeze of apple juice from the press.  It was delicious!  This of course means now the bulk of the work is ahead of us before anything more can be enjoyed.  We spent most of the afternoon picking and crushing, picking and crushing until finally 3 wheelbarrows later we were done.

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WP_000417I highly support the period use of Child LaborWP_000416

 I highly support the period use of Child Labor
That looks like my 5th grade teacher Mrs Caesario

That looks like my 5th grade teacher Mrs Caesario

WP_000420  So after several hours of grinding apples and crushing them we finally strapped the two carboys into their seats and drove them back to the Inn of Bard’s Rest where they’ve been innoculated with some D-47 yeast and are bubbling away in front of my kitchen as we speak.

Is that Bachus I see?

Is that Bachus I see?

Colonial vs English Cyder:    One of the biggest arguments I’ve found is whether cider was actually pressed or boiled in Europe vs in Colonial times where we predominately find evidence of crushing as the main form of getting apple juice.  Obviously an orchard would have to make mention of a cider press before I could prove this theory (1).   Thankfully several references I’ve come across have supported the theory that crushing the apples to make cider was done both in the Colonies and in Europe.

Once all was said and done, we washed the equipment again and placed it in front of the barn where it will dry before it finally gets put away.

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Bibliography:

(1) http://www.archiveofciderpomology.co.uk/Origins_of_cider.htm#Medieval_References_to_Orchards

6 thoughts on “Maple Hard Cyder

    • In many cases you can ask the orchard owners to press specific apples for a combination of flavors. My favorite combination is a Spencer/Mac blend and if I’m lucky I can do a couple pounds of crabapples into the batch with it to round the flavor out.

  1. Questions: Do you back sweeten? Also, what do you bottle or store your cider in? I’m torn between potentially carbonating, but I really don’t want to run the risk of bottle bombs.

    • My normal recipe is 5 gallons cider to half gallon of Double Dark A Amber Maple Syrup. I’m trying something new this time. I’m letting the D47 ferment out in the primary and then I’m going to introduce 1 qt of maple syrup (same kind) in the secondary fermentation and see what kind of effect it has.

    • On your second question, I’ve graduated beyond bottles. I do “still” hard cider where there’s no carbonation and then load it into the 5 gallon kegs and carbonate with 7lbs of CO2 at 50 degrees for a couple days. Or if I’m pressed for time I’ll pressurize the tank at 10lbs and take a bumpy backroad to the event. 20 min in the trunk carbonates beautifully!

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