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Home » Food Trivia

Apple Cider

By Helen Brody (November 17, 2008)

Apple CiderThe story goes that Johnny Appleseed in the early 1800s, with a bible tucked under his arm and a sack full of apple seeds, planted the apple trees west of the Allegheny Mountains. He was a lovable old coot, rumored to wear a burlap bag for clothing and barefooted, he quickly won the affection of both children and frontier homesteaders. In return for food and housing, he regaled his new friends with stories from the Good Book. The Indians, in return, supplied Johnny with moccasins and the settlers fed and housed him. Apocryphal? You bet, but realize that Johnny Appleseed was actually a land speculator named John Chapman who died in 1845.

No mind, the apples produced by Johnny’s trees provided what orchards of the period were meant to produce – cider. In the guises of vinegar, applejack, or sweetener, cider was important. But crucial to the colonists’ well-being was fermented or hard cider. Carefully made and stored in barrels, it replaced the water that many colonists thought to be contaminated. Then, alas, came the temperance movements of the late 1800s sounding the knoll for hard cider.
The 20th century has replaced hard cider with a gently pasteurized and refrigerated sweet cider. As a no water-added fruit juice with natural vitamins, it is now consumed year round – often replacing orange juice at the breakfast table.

Some wonder what the differences are between the various types of apple based drinks. Fresh cider, as described by Irv Silverman of Silverman’s Farm in Easton consists of a blend of apples that have been ground and pressed, squeezing out 99% of the juice. The cider is then strained and pasteurized to 175 degrees for six seconds, killing all harmful bacteria. To preserve the flavor, sweet cider is never boiled, nor is it filtered which accounts for the pomace or sediment that settles in the bottom of a cider bottle. Sweet cider has a limited shelf life and must be refrigerated at all times.
Apple juice, on the other hand, because it is a shelf stable product that requires refrigeration only after opening, has been subjected to a longer period of pasteurization and has had its apple solids filtered out, giving it the clear pristine look. Sparkling cider is carbonated and is often served as alcohol free champagne.

Make syrup for pancakes by boiling one quart of apple cider and 21/2 cups of sugar together for three to five minutes. Boiling cider down to the consistency of maple syrup dates back to colonial days and provides a unique natural sweetener that can be used in pies, custards, jellies, entrees, and gives new meaning to a hot cup of tea.

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