Like many British teenagers, cider was one of the first alcoholic drinks that I consumed. Nothing fancy, you understand, but something called Woodpecker cider, that was extremely sweet and had a low alcohol content (2% from memory). Proper cider (not Woodpecker or Sommersby, which is an abomination and should be re-labelled as an ‘alcopop’) is a delight. A crisp, dry French cider from Normandy or Brittany served alongside pork chops, cheese or good sausages, wedged into soft rolls, is a whole world away from these pale imitations.
This week, we had to stay for a few days, a former student of mine from Denmark. Her father runs Fejø Cider, an independent cider maker based on the island of Fejø. The cider is made following the French tradition from organic apples grown on the island. With her around, it made good sense to try out some different ciders, and to plan a desert using cider for this weekend.
First up, was a cider I had first tried a few months ago. This tea-leaf infused cider from Zeffer Cider Co, based in Auckland, is a deep golden dry cider, with a slight tang or undernote of black tea. As a tea and cider drinker, this ticked two boxes at once.
Cider with tea
Next up, was a cider from Hamilton based Good George. I had tried and enjoyed their Doris Plum cider, but decided to try this Drop Hop cider, which, as befits a brewery, has hops added to the cider mixture. Described as having notes of passionfruit, mango, papaya and grapefruit, it was certainly an enjoyable drink, though I preferred the tea infused cider of the day before.
Cider with hops…and Charlie
Next up was Peckham’s Moutere cider (called after Upper Moutere, near Nelson, where they are based). I really like their cider with cardamon, and this also did not disappoint. It is a crisp cider that would be good on a summer day (rather than a chilly spring Friday).
Cider with….only apples
Finally…well actually I haven’t tried this one yet, also from Zeffer. This is more of a desert cider, and one that will be used to make part of Sunday’s desert, cider-glazed apples. I thought with this being more of a sweet cider it might pair well.
A sweeter cider
6 facts about cider:
- The UK has the world’s highest per capita consumption
- In the US, cider is called ‘hard cider’ to distinguish it from a non-alcoholic beverage
- In France, cider must be made solely from apples
- The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in the UK defines ‘real’ cider as a product containing at least 90% fresh apple juice, with no added flavours or colour.
- Peckham’s Cider and Zeffer were both winners at the 2015 New Zealand Cider awards
- I read that if you want to make it yourself, a mix of sweet and sour apples, rather than all one kind, works best.
Put 2 cups (NZ/Australian cups) of apple cider and 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on cider) in a saucepan and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar. Cook at a fast boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Takes about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and leave to one side. Place 6 apples, peeled, cored and diced into small pieces, 1 tablespoon butter, half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, a handful or raisins, the grated zest and juice of a lemon into a saucepan and cook until the apples are tender. Stir in the apple syrup before serving.