We get excited for cider week every time it comes around, but this year there seems to be more hype and excitement about NY cider than years past. To get a general sense of cider, its definition and origins in Colonial life, here is some info from Aaron Burr Cidery:
Unbeknownst to Americans born in the 20th century, cider is a world-class low-alcohol drink which expresses the character of the land. It also allows for stylistic variation from farmer to farmer. Some cider makers strive toward refinement and complexity, cultivating for flavor nuances (i.e. tannin and sharpness), while others produce a rough and earthy drink popular in taverns. Think of them as culinary folk artists.
As if regional and personality factors weren’t enough, ponder how individual apple varieties also offer immense diversity when sampling ciders. A counting of over 14,000 apple varieties was at one time, surveyed within the U.S., but (get ready for this…) within each individual fruit are seeds, which if left to grow, create entirely new types of apples genetically unique. Just imagine what that means to cider: there might be thousands of single-variety ciders to be had, but when blending those varieties together – oh, my! – the possibilities are exponential.
In short, cider was to America what wine is to France. Farms, communities, meals and food itself revolved around the drink’s presence. (And if you did not just raise an eyebrow, re-read that last sentence.) But with the coming of the 20th century, this country took a decided turn away from locally produced agriculture, to which cider was the epitome. As the cider mills shut down or switched over to sweet cider America lost thousands of cultivated cider-apple varieties. Prohibition is often blamed, but it was actually just a small factor contributing toward cider’s century-long demise. Post-Prohibition regulation, long-distance food transportation, the use of synthetics on the farm and in packaged food, the economy of scale, and cultural homogenization all continue to hamper cider’s comeback.
CIDER ON THE MENU
We will offer a cider flight highlighting various producers in the regions and various styles of cider making.
Ginger Apple. Aaron Burr. Unfiltered NY.
Rye Barrel Aged. Good Life Cider. NY.
Ice Cider. Eden. Heirloom Blend. VT.
We will also have a cider aperitif cocktail, a twist on the classic Kir, replacing the wine with the Eden sparkling cider. And if that was not enough we will also have the Orleans Negroni, made with still cider infused with currants and bitter herbs, it is like a local Campari, perfect for the occasion and delightful when stirred with Barrhill Barrel Aged Gin.
Food wise, we will be incorporating cider into the mignonette for the oysters and into a beurre blanc sauce for fish and shrimp. The pastry department has even made a cider sorbet.
MEET THE PRODUCERS
All info was pulled from their websites, links are below to find out more.
Starting from a different point in history, we have named our product after Aaron Burr, a founding father from the New York area. During his time a remarkable thing occurred: Not far from New York City, perfect climate and soil conditions (perfect for cider-apples) met-up with the new nation’s philosophic determination for self-sufficiency, and the result was the creation of the best cider and cider culture the world has known. We want to recreate that drink and we want to help restore that culture. Cider is rightfully the local table wine.
“The Cidery”, which produces Aaron Burr Cider in Wurtsboro, New York, is a small homestead farm dating back to the early 19th century. We specialize in growing cider-apples, which are different from eating-apples in the same way wine-grapes are different from table-grapes. We use our apples and other locally grown and foraged apples for one mission: to re-create “true cider”, the time-averaged most popular drink in America.
This focus is founded on the belief that early Americans drank history’s best cider. Reestablishing this involves holism -from farming to art, from the market to politics- cider is an identity. There is much from our recent past which must be undone but luckily the descendants of early cider apples do still exist in the wild. We believe their ability to survive the 20th century provides American cider its future.
Good Life Cider
Good Life Cider is an expression of Good Life Farm. Good Life Farm is a wildly diverse small organic farm where we focus on Good Soil to create Good Fruit and Good Cider. Two of our ciders- ‘Cazenovia’ and ‘Honeoye’- are named for the main soil types on the farm.
Cider Talk- Our ciders are distinctly American in style, which means we’re not afraid to borrow from the world of traditions and styles. Good Life Cider creatively blends international influences with a taste of the Finger Lakes through our mineral-rich, acidic apples. Our cider line ranges from tannic and dry to bright, fruit-forward and sweet; in sparkling, champagne and barrel-aged styles. Our range is based on traditional bittersweet apples and sharp, acidic heirloom fruits.
Farm Philosophy- Good Life Farm is our home and our work and our way to say YES. Melissa and Garrett bought these 69 acres in 2008 when the fields were all in corn, wheat and soy. Over the past years, we’ve created a diverse ecological farm. We’ve planted grass, bushes and trees, built buildings, put up high tunnels, fenced the property and brought in turkeys, geese, beef cows and draft horses. Our business is built for maximum positive impact- instead of focusing on doing “less” harm, we seek to do the most good for our community. For us, this means growing abundance, resilience and diversity every day. Good Life Farm is now a certified organic farm; a full diet CSA+; and home to Finger Lakes Cider House, our collaborative multi-cidery Tasting Room.
EDEN ICE CIDER
Eden Orchards and Eden Ice Cider began on a trip to Montreal in 2006 when we first tasted ice cider and wondered why nobody was making it on our side of the border. We had dreamed for years of working together on a farm in the Northeast Kingdom; it was a dream that had vauge outlines including an apple orchard, cider and fermentation of some sort. That night we looked at each other and knew ice cider was it.
In April 2007, we bought an abandoned dairy farm in West Charleston, Vermont and got to work. Since then we have planted over 1,000 apple trees, created 5 vintages of Eden Vermont Ice Ciders, and have introduced a new line of Orleans Aperitif Ciders.
Our goals are to create healthy soils and trees in our own orchard, to support our Vermont apple orchard partners who do the same, to minimize our carbon footprint, to contribute to the economic and environmental health of our employees and our Northeast Kingdom community, and most of all to make world-class unique ciders that truly reflect our Vermont terroir.
Originated in Southern Quebec
Ice Cider is a sweet yet sophisticated dessert wine made from apples and concentrated by natural winter cold. Sometimes sold as “apple ice wine” in the USA, it was developed in Southern Quebec province in Canada over the past 10 years (‘Cidre de Glace’ in French). Ice Cider provides a significant value-added opportunity for this region’s commercial apple orchards, which have been hurt in recent years by the flood of cheaper apples from West Coast and Chinese producers. It also takes advantage of the long, cold winters that are typical of these parts.
Now a recognized dessert wine sold throughout Canada, Europe and Japan
But the best thing about Ice Cider is its amazingly delicious taste. That’s why the Ice Cider industry in Quebec has grown significantly and now includes over 50 producers with total annual production of over half a million bottles. Ice Ciders have won prestigious awards, and the largest producers have contracts for international distribution with companies such as Camus and Nicolas.
A distinct process designed to showcase apple at its most refined
The production process for Ice Cider is not the same as for icewine, as few apples naturally stay on trees until frozen. But Ice Cider is its own unique taste sensation, and the process is designed to obtain the purest essence of this particular fruit, to be celebrated as itself. The typical production process is as follows:
- Apples are harvested from their trees at peak ripeness and kept in cold storage until the onset of consistently cold winter temperatures
- Apples are pressed, and the juice is set outdoors to freeze for 6 – 8 weeks
- The freezing and melting-off process results in a residual concentrate that is naturally high in sugar and flavor (typically 32 – 40 brix)
- The concentrate is fermented at 50 – 55 F degrees over several weeks or months
- The fermentation process is terminated and the final product is cold stabilized, filtered and bottled
- The resulting product is typically 8 – 11% alcohol by volume, with 12 – 15% residual sugar
The final amount of Ice Cider produced is usually less than 1/4 of the original amount of juice pressed. It takes more than 8 lbs. of apples to make one 375ml bottle of Ice Cider!