Cider is a fermented apple juice whose alcoholic content varies from 2% ABV to 8% ABV. This drink can be prepared from all types of apples. Still some special cultivar varieties are used for making this beverage. This drink and its several variations are popular in Europe, America and Latin American countries. The drink comes in lots of varieties: they are classified from dry to sweet and their appearance is classified as clear to cloudy. The cider drink forms largely varying in color and clarity are normally due to the filtering between fermentation and pressing. The mass produced drink varieties resemble sparkling wine in appearance when compared to the traditional varieties which are cloudier and darker. The most common variation of this drink is called apple cider, which is also known as “hard cider” outside UK.
History of Cider
Apples have been around since the time of Adam and Eve. Today, the historians believe that apple trees were grown in Nile river delta since 1300 BC. There are not many references to confirm whether the Egyptians pursued this drink or not.
The actual history of this drink can be traced back to 55 BC when Romans arrived in England. The Romans found the villagers at Kent enjoying a beverage prepared using the apples. And as per the ancient folklore: Roman emperor Julius Caesar pursued this fruit with passion after tasting the apple beverage. But it is fairly unknown as when and how the Kentish people mastered cider making. By 9th century cider drinking became a favorite pastime in Europe. Its early reference was made by Charlemagne.
The cider consumption touched new heights in England, after the Norman conquest of 1066. Some orchards were specifically established to produce the apples used in the drink preparation. The presses involved in the drink preparation were listed as source of income in 1230 when Royal Charter was granted to Jocelin Bishop of Bath. The cider making became an important industry in the medieval times. This drink was considered holier than water and therefore was used for baptizing kids during the 14th century. The drink also acted as a currency for sometime because some historical anecdotes suggest that in medieval England the farm workers were paid in wages of four pints a drink. It is not clear whether other cider recipes were popular during that time or not. During the later medieval times laborers were paid allowance as the part of wages to buy this beverage. The earliest written references this drink can be found in the Wycliffe ‘B Bible, which was published in earlier 15th Century. The Bible derives its name from the translation of the verse ‘For he (John the Baptist) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink...’ For the first time in history this Bible used the word ‘ (sidir) for strong drink. The name was anglicized in later times to match its current name. There are several mentions of the one or the other forms of cider recipes as medicine , but the earliest mention of cider as a medicine can be tracked down to 1664, when John Evelyn mentioned “Generally all strong and pleasant cider excites and cleanses the Stomach, strengthens Digestion, and infallibly frees the Kidneys and Bladder from breeding the Gravel Stone”.
The drink production dwindled in the early 19th century due to major agricultural changes, but it regained its lost popularity in 20th century.
- Apple Cider and other such drinks are normally served as the thirst quenching drink.
- It is sprinkled on cauliflower to make it white and clean. A spoonful of it is added to the water kept for boiling eggs to prevent the whites from leaking from cracked egg. Also, it is added to the water while cooking vegetables and fruits. The bad odor of the cabbage can be curbed by adding a spoonful of the drink to the water used for cooking it. It is added to cooking rice to make it fluffier.
- It is also used for baking. It is added to the cake mixture for making the shiny pie crust. Over sugaring of the icing is also curbed by adding few drops of this drink.
- The drink is added to the canned fish and shrimp to maintain their freshness and to enhance their taste. It is also seared on broiled and fried foods.
- Flavor of desserts is enhanced by adding this beverage. It is also used to maintain the integrity of fruit gelatin.
- Various recipes/drinks which make use of this drink are considered while preparing the homemade sour cream. They are also used for food preservation. Some spices like peppers, and vegetables like olives, tomatoes and even peeled potatoes can be preserved for long time after treating with cider.
Health and Nutrition Facts of Cider
Apple cider and other recipe variants were found to serve vitamins, pectin, beta-carotene and host of minerals such as sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, fluorine, iron and calcium. The pectin present in the drink helps to curb bad cholesterol and regulates blood pressure. This drink supplies calcium to the body by extracting it from fruits and vegetables. Usually most of the drink variants are packed with antioxidants like beta-carotene, which helps in curbing the after effects of oxidation and nourishes our skin health. It is considered to be the great weight loss remedy because it directly tackles the fat cells in the body. The drink variants are normally rich in malic acid which acts as a best anti-fungal and anti-bacterial solution. It is helpful in curing many digestive ailments. There are myriad of other health benefits too. Due to all these reasons the drink is also called a “Wonder Drug”.
Cider and St. George’s Day
St. George’s day is commemorated on April 23 of every year in memory of the English patron saint, St. George. The day is celebrated in Britain with a wide variety of traditional English foods. Cider, being one of the classic British drinks, can be served on this day along with other dishes.
Miscellaneous Facts about Cider
- Captain Cook carried this drink in his ship to treat his soldiers from scurvy.
- Around 45% of the apples produced in UK are now used in preparation of drink. UK tops in the list of countries with high per capita consumption of cider. Around 13% of the adults in UK enjoy this drink atleast once a month. Some of the largest producers of this beverage are spread over UK.
- Since 1995, about 3 million new cultivar varieties used for producing this beverage were planted.
- About 600 million liters of this drink was produced in UK in 2006.