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Posts Tagged ‘apple trees’

The Kingston Black apple is another variety of apple that is best suited for cider making only. With its bitter taste it isn’t much of an eating apple like so many of the apples grown in the United States. In  fact, most cider making apple varieties don’t even look like the larger Red Delicious or Fuji’s that everyone  loves to eat. Most cider making apples are smaller and tend to grow in clusters of 3 or more. If you are looking to grow cider apples or if you are looking for a variety to buy to make hard cider, the Kingston Black may be a good place to start. It is a good stand alone variety, or varietal, so you don’t necessarily need to blend this apple variety with other apple varieties. If you do want to grow a Kingston Black apple tree, you can purchase them in the States and they are best suited to grow in hardiness zones 4-9. This hardiness zone covers a majority of the US, from the Yakima Valley in Washington State to the Tennessee River Valley. See the map below. The only climates to avoid would be the northern plains and the southern tip of Florida.

Climate and growing zones for the United States

Climate and growing zones for the United States

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If you are interested in making your own cider you must read Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Hard & Sweet Cider by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols.  It is a very easy read,  but it thorough in its approach to guiding beginning  cider makers. The book covers both hard (alcoholic) cider as well as sweet (fresh) cider and which apples are best to use for both. There is a great chapter on Cider Presses themselves and the variety of styles to choose from. If you are interested in growing your own trees they even touch on what types of trees are best suited for you. They also cover some topics beyond just making your own apple cider, such as cooking recipes, making apple cider vinegar, and how the law plays a role in making cider. If you’ve ever wanted  to learn about home making apple cider this is a great place to start.

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With harvest season in full effect it is no wonder that September is designated as the National Apple Month. Everywhere from New Hampshire to Washington State, apple growers are harvesting their fruits. This is also a good opportunity for apple cider makers to find quality apples at little or no cost. There are always apple trees that are neglected or not for commercial production where you will be able to pick apples for your cider making. Don’t be shy, just ask the tree owners if they would mind if you pick some of their apples. If the apples go un picked, they fall to the ground and create a mess…along with a lot of scavengers. Make use of the good fruit while they are still hanging on the trees!

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During Colonial times apple cider was the drink of choice. Not native to the Americas, the settlers brought over apple seeds from Europe and begin planting apple trees throughout the colonies. The presses that they used were probably not far different from the Apple Cider Press that is available today. Since they could not trust the water due to contamination, the settlers enjoyed apple cider as their main drink. It is said that John Adams, the United States’ second president enjoyed his cider with breakfast. And cider in this passage is referring to “hard cider” or fermented cider. In England, where cider is of great popularity, freshly pressing apples produce “juice” whereas we call it “cider”. In the United States, we have to specify which type of cider we’re talking about, either regular cider (juice) or hard cider (fermented). As settlers moved west the apple trees and cider consumption moved with them (remember the story of Johnny Appleseed?), this is until they ran into the high plains of the Rocky Mountains. It became more difficult to plant apple trees and produce cider, around the same time period was the introduction of German beer to the United States. This was the beginning of the end for apple cider as America’s beverage. The nail in the coffin was Prohibition, as the production and consumption of all alcoholic beverages diminished. Apple Cider never recovered. We have seen some gain in popularity in the last decade or two with the rise in handcrafted breweries, or micro breweries throughout the United States.

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