Techniques & Terminology

Techniques

Keeving is a skilled technique for creating a naturally sweet cider. Pectin is encouraged to form, which traps nitrogen. This results in the yeast being starved of nutrients and so the cider finishes fermenting early, when residual sugars and sweetness remain.

Bottle conditioning involves the fermentation process finishing in the bottle, resulting in a sparkling cider. This can either be done by bottling the cider just before it finishes fermenting, or by adding some sugar at the time of bottling.

Vintage cider is made from a maker's best apples from a season. It should be made from pure juice and may be allowed longer to ferment and condition than other ciders.

Pét Nat or pétillant-naturel is a drink bottled before fermentation has finished, giving a natural sparkle without adding adding yeasts, sugars or carbonation at bottling time.

Terminology

Cider in the UK always refers to an alcoholic beverage made from the juice of fermented apples. However, if you head across the pond to the USA you'll need to specifically request a "hard cider" to receive the fermented alcoholic drink that we know and love here.

Farmhouse cider/perry is made on the farm and is usually a blend of the apple varieties available. In days gone by, cider would make up a portion of a farm labourer’s wage, and some farmers used to compete on the quality of their cider to help attract the best workers.

Fermentation refers to the process through which yeast converts the sugars in the apple juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Natural yeast on the apples can be utilised, or specialised yeasts can be added to aid the process. The production of carbon dioxide within the fermentation process is how we can achieve naturally sparkling ciders.

Scrumpy is a term sometimes used for a strong, dry, still cider, often cloudy, made from a mixture of apples.

Tannins are found in the skin, stalks and seeds of many fruits. They act as a natural preservative, which is critical for the fermentation and ages steps of cider, and have a bitter astringent taste, similar to a strong cup of tea. Apples with higher levels of tannins create ciders with a rich golden orange hue due to oxidisation during the milling process.