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I am pleased to present to the cider community this modest contribution to the art and science of cider making. You will find in this book a number of texts and discussions, or articles, dealing with different aspects of the preparation of cider. The first part is on basic cider-making practices. Before going on to more in-depth discussions, I thought it was important to present a simple, proven, and sound method to prepare a good cider without any distraction. Once the cider maker has mastered the basic practices, it is time to start experimenting with new or more complex things. Each of the subsequent parts, then, concentrates on a single facet of cider making. Part II is on obtaining the best possible apples for preparing the cider through adequate cultural practices and varietal selection. As you will see by reading further, I believe the quality of the apples to be a most important factor in obtaining a superior cider. Part III covers the extraction of the juice from the apples. Making use of my mechanical engineering background, I present a design guide for mills and presses based on sound engineering. Part IV is on the apple juice and how its properties may be influential in the cider that will be obtained from it. And Part V is on cider making itself, the process of fermentation and transformation of the
juice into cider. You will notice that I have used the word cider in its true international sense: an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of apple juice—what is usually called hard cider in the United States. (What is often called sweet cider or simply cider in the United States is really the fresh apple juice, or the must, from which we make true cider.) What you will not find in this book is a history of cider. Quite a few authors have already done that work, and most of them did it better than I could have. In particular, Ben Watson, in his book Cider, Hard and Sweet (2009) covers the history of cider from the beginning of civilization through the Roman era and its evolution in Europe and America. And Joan Morgan, with Alison Richards, in The New Book of Apples (2002), also gives an excellent historical account, with more emphasis on the story of cider in England. Some excellent books written in French do the same for France and Quebec. For similar reasons, you will not find elaborate tasting sheets and procedures, nor recipes of good food you could prepare with cider and apples, or methods to make such drinks as fruit flavored ciders, apple flavored wines or enhanced ciders. Right from the start, I wanted this book to focus on the preparation of pure juice,
The New Cider Maker’s Handbook
giving me loads of apples that I didn’t know what to do with—that is, until some friends convinced me to make cider with them. I was reluctant at first, as cider had a very bad reputation at the time, a consequence of low-quality ciders made industrially during the 1970s in Quebec. But my first trials convinced me it was worthwhile to continue, and the following year I had a brand-new press to extract the juice from my apples. A few rows of old apple trees changed my life—the life of a young engineer who became a cider maker and author. The book you now hold is really the book I wish I had had when I started to gain interest in cider making and wanted to know more. Yes, there were some books, and some good ones, but they were never as complete as I would have liked them to be. There are also some very specialized books on oenology, but there was a large gap between these two classes of books, which I have tried to fill, at least in part. If a book such as this one had existed back then, it would have saved me quite a bit of work, and I could have progressed faster in my cider-making abilities. But then I wouldn’t have had the challenge of writing it. An important point about this book is that it is based mostly on my notes and tests, my personal experience and research, and borrows relatively little from other publications. In a certain sense, this is influenced by the style of the books that were written 100 to 120 years ago by some true pioneers. In those days, cider making was essentially an art based on intuition and tradition. These men, who were true scientists, spent literally years in their laboratories analyzing samples of apple juices and ciders with rudimentary instruments. They built the foundations of the scientific knowledge we now have on cider, and the books they wrote are extremely inspiring.
unadulterated cider and understanding the phenomena that occur during the transformation from an apple flower bud in the orchard to an apple, then to the must or fresh juice, which finally becomes cider—all of this with a view toward obtaining a final product of the highest quality possible. In retrospect, this was enough to keep an author busy for a while. There are many reasons you might come to cider making. It could be that you have some apples available that would be lost if not processed into cider. Or it may be for health reasons: cider certainly is one of the healthiest drinks; you may have an intolerance to some chemical product and want a drink whose ingredients you can control, or you may want to make it from entirely organic fruit. It may even be for economic reasons or to avoid paying taxes on your tipple. All reasons are good! For my part, a long and winding road has brought me to this point. It all started in 1982: I was a young mechanical engineer pursuing a master’s degree in solar energy. I enjoyed alpine skiing and fell in love with a piece of land about an hour’s drive from the city of Quebec, close to a beautiful but still undeveloped ski center. The land was on a gentle slope facing south with a beautiful view on the Saint Lawrence River. It was an ideal spot to build the concept passive solar energy house I had been thinking about. Nothing there predestined me toward becoming a cider maker, except that there were a few rows of old abandoned apple trees on the land. At the time I had no particular liking for apples or apple trees, but I thought this was no reason not to buy this land, which was, in all other aspects, ideal for my projects. But then I started cutting the bushes growing on the orchard floor and providing some care to the old trees, which rewarded my efforts by
There are many people to whom I am indebted and who have contributed more or less directly to this book. It started in 1988, when I went with a couple of carloads of apples to the orchard of Pierre Lafond, the owner of Cidrerie Saint-Nicolas, who lent me his press so I could produce my first juice. He encouraged me, gave me good advice—in particular to read the book by Georges Warcollier that was at the university library—and I became a cider maker. He and his wife, Patricia Daigneault, were also helpful when it came time to write about ice cider (see chapter 15). The next important step was when I started to participate in the Cider Digest discussion group on the Internet. For this I thank Dick Dunn, the self-styled “janitor” of the digest, for the exceptional work he has done over the years, and still does. With the digest, I started to communicate with other cider makers, exchange ideas, discuss methods of preparing the cider, and sort out technical details. Many of the discussions on the digest have evolved into one article or another of this book. Through the digest I was also able to meet some other extraordinary cider makers, in particular, Andrew Lea, the “official cider scientist” of our community. Andrew has helped me settle numerous technical details, giving this book a sounder scientific base. Gary Awdey, the president of the Great Lakes Cider and Perry Association, allowed my first trials of keeved ciders, as he generously made available the PME enzyme to the community of cider makers. Gary is also responsible for having me participate in cider competitions. At first I was hesitant, but since my ciders have won their share of medals, I started to like that! I discussed details of cider making with many other
participants in the Cider Digest and the Cider Workshop discussion forums; I thank them all. Two other very important persons in my cider life have been Terry Maloney, who unfortunately left us prematurely while working on his cider, and his wife, Judith. With the annual Cider Days event that they initiated, I was able to meet in person most of the people mentioned here. Some cider makers have participated more directly in this book: Steve Wood showed great patience when I went to meet him for an interview, and he and Derek Bisset, John Brett, Chuck Shelton, Dick Dunn, and Gary Awdey helped by making recommendations on the most appropriate varietal selection for different regions of North America. Michael Phillips, the maker of an infamous “battery-acid cider,” is a great inspiration to us, always searching for better ways to grow apples; he kindly reviewed some of my writing on apple growing. Ben Watson, my editor, as well as a cider lover and promoter, believed I could make a good book on cider and managed to convince Chelsea Green of this, after having seen only about twenty pages of text, mostly written in French. And for the third time, I thank Dick Dunn, who reviewed the first draft of the manuscript and made many good suggestions. Finally, I would like to mention my wife, Banou Khamzina, who first said innocently, “Claude, I think you should write a book.” She didn’t know what she was getting into. I close this preface with a warning: cider making is highly addictive. Once you start, it may be very difficult to stop! It might change your life completely (and the life of the people that surround you also). Claude Jolicoeur Québec, January 2013
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