With this past weekend seeing the mercury hit the 20° mark, Devon was basking in the spring sunshine. Shorts made their way out of the closet and people all over the county were outside enjoying a bit of sun and topping up their vitamin D. This first warm spell of the year was a happy event, and we find there is just nothing more refreshing than a cool, crisp Devon cider in the garden. Better yet, all our Devon ciders are made from apples sourced from the orchards of the region, on Devonshire's very own cider farms.
But what makes Devon cider so special? To answer that, we have to know a little about the drink itself, and how it is made.
Making Devon Cider
We all know that cider is made from apples, but did you know that cider can actually be made from almost any variety of apple? Of course, here in Devon, our more temperate climate and many south facing slopes near the estuaries provide ideal conditions to grow specific cider apples to make the nicest and most refreshing drink, including wonderfully-named varieties such as; Tail Sweet, Sugar Bush, Devon Crimson and Slack-Ma-Girdle. These apples are, if you'll forgive the pun, the core of the final beverage, and they are grown and tended to with extra attention in our nurturing local orchards. Here in Devon, only these cider apples are used, whereas in other regions eating apples may be used either solely or as an additive. In years long since passed, communities used to Wassail (a ceremony of singing and dancing) in the orchards to promote a good harvest, the apples were of such great importance!
Once the apples are gathered from the trees, they are then pressed or scratted. The pulp produced is layered, and subjected to pressure. The juice collected is sieved, and put into vats or closed casks.
Fermentation is carried out at 4 - 16°, this low temperature makes the process slower, which in turn means that more of the delicate flavours and aromas are retained. Just before all the sugar is consumed, the liquid is re-vatted, leaving sediment and spent yeast behind. The vat is completely filled, reducing exposure to air. More sugar may be added at this point. After three months, the cider is ready for bottling, although some varieties are matured in the vats for up to three years.
Once bottled, the cider is ready for us to enjoy. Beautiful!