It’s all about the apples!

That may sound a little extreme, but even with the best cider making practice poor apples will produce poor (OK, maybe average) cider.

Depending on the style of cider you want to achieve (see styles), your choice of apples is an important factor in determining what your cider tastes like.

Many of us feel that whatever apple varieties you can get locally, produces the best ‘local cider to you’, which is important – indeed what some craft cider makers feel distinguishes their produce. In fact, many varieties will be imports into an area, but then we are getting into ‘terroir’ that is best covered under ‘orcharding’!

There are many excellent resources to look through about apple varieties – and they cross a broad period of history too! Two examples are:

  • Apples, a Field Guide by Michael Clark (Whittet books)
  • The Anatomy of Dessert by Edward Bunyard (1927)

Now managed by the University of Reading, Brogdale house the National Fruit Collection - over 3,500 named varieties of fruit. They list nearly 2000 apple and 500 pear varieties on their website, and are possibly the best chance of identifying an apple generally.

For a good modern description of many varieties, get hold of Liz Copas’ book 'A Somerset Pomona'. This is acknowledged by many craft cidermakers to be an invaluable resource.

A useful description of a number of heritage varieties can be found on Stephen Hayes Fruitwise website. Although this deals with only the varieties he grows in his orchard, there is a broad range of them to look at – it is a partial ‘Pomona of old Hampshire ’ in its own right!

There are other links to websites that will give you a variety of information about apples - please see the links section.

To some degree, this gets the Cider Workshop out of having to launch into a long search for apple descriptions – which would merely be copying others work. However, within this group, the members have a number of varieties for making cider, and this ‘growing’ list can be seen by using the image links.

As far as making cider is concerned, there are four types of apple, and these make up the categories of our records.

If you would like us to include your variety, or if you want to add your review/comments, please contact us through the group - images are always useful.