Apple cider has been a favorite drink during the fall and winter months, but did you know this drink dates back to the Romans?
Whether you associate this drink with colder nights, the coming of Halloween, or you simply like the flavor, cider made from apples can be the perfect drink at this time of year. Many times it’s an alcoholic drink, but kids enjoy warm cider when it’s cold out and you can see your breath, which makes having non-alcoholic cider available a necessity at this time of year.
Things You Need to Know Before Drinking Apple Cider
1. There’s a Huge Difference Between Juice and Cider
Just because you like apple juice doesn’t mean you’re going to like cider. Cider is raw juice and made from pressed apples. It hasn’t been filtered to remove pulp or sediment, its opaque and highly perishable. You don’t have the preservatives in cider that you have in juice, but cider has a raw and bitter flavor to it that many love to enjoy.
2. The Best Stuff Isn’t Necessarily in New England
Apple cider is certainly synonymous with New England fall weather, but that doesn’t mean that’s where the best cider is found. Many times you can find great apple cider at farmer’s markets around the country. Some of the best cider comes from the orchards in California, Georgia, and Michigan, giving you different flavors from vastly differing locations.
3. Outside North America, “Cider” is Always Alcoholic
In North America, we have both apple cider (which is essentially unfiltered apple juice) and hard cider, which refers to a bubbly cider that has alcohol added to the mix. Other parts of the world only serve drinks called cider with alcohol in them. This may be something to keep in mind if you order apple cider in Europe.
4. Hard Cider has a Long and Winding History
Cider has been around since about 55 B. C. when Romans conquered continental Europe. The Romans planted orchards of native crab apples for the production of apple cider for many to enjoy. The northern part of France is another area that dates back as far as 400 A.D. with apple cider was an alternative to drinking wine when an alcoholic drink as desired.
5. Hard Apple Cider was more Popular than Beer in America’s Early Days
Barley and beer grains were trickier to cultivate in New England soil in the early days of America. Because of this, apple cider was the preferred drink of choice for many English settlers in the North East. By the mid-18thcentury, the average resident in New England consumed nearly 35 gallons of cider every year. It was always cider season at that time.
6. Abraham Lincoln Served Cider Before his Presidency
Lincoln was a bartender and owner of the tavern Berry & Lincoln in New Salem, IL before being elected to the Presidency. He preferred to serve apple cider because it was still more available at that time than beer and made for a fairly easy and cheap drink to serve. Cider was one of the most popular drinks of the 1800s and was a favorite of Lincoln.
7. Cider is More Like Beer than Wine
Apple cider, or any other cider, is often compared to beer and not wine. It’s slightly bubbly and contains less alcohol by volume than wine does. This is because the sweetest apples contain much less sugar than grapes which are very sweet. On average, hard cider contains four to six percent alcohol which is certainly in line with beer and much less than most wines.
8. Applejack is Cider’s Super Boozy Cousin
Applejack has been around as long as cider and was used in colonial New Jersey as currency. Historically, Applejack was made by freeze-distilling concentrated hard apple cider. Calvados is another apple liquor that’s related to apple cider and was created in the 1500s to give another option for an alcoholic drink made from apples. This drink was first known as eau-de-cidre to be a drink that many could enjoy.
9. Johnny Appleseed Was Real
His actual name was John Chapman and he traveled ahead of westbound settlers to graft small nurseries of cider apple trees in the Great Lakes and Ohio River regions. Some areas in that part of the country still celebrate Johnny Appleseed with different festivals. Visit Fort Wayne, IN and you’ll find many references to him and his influence on the area.
10. Cider Makes Insanely Good Sangria
During fall months, cider is arguable the best cocktail mixer you can use to make mimosas or sangria. You’ll love the flavor of a drink with different layers of fruit inside where you can see the fall colors, the ripe flesh of the fruit, and enjoy a tasty drink on a fall day. Go ahead and treat yourself to some delicious apple cider with bits of apples and grapes in it.
11. You can Make Hard Cider in Just a Few Hours
This might be a big reason why apple cider was preferred in the early days. All you need to make some historic hard cider is two parts of the cider, sliced apples and oranges, and one part ginger beer. Let that sit in a pitcher for 3 to 6 hours and you’ve got a drink you can enjoy during the cold days and nights of fall and winter.