Apple cider is a well-known drink for special occasions and has been around for hundreds of years. Not to get mixed up with apple juice, this drink has a unique taste created from apples that many can enjoy. Let’s first look at what apple cider just is and then see the process that is required to create the apple cider.
What is Apple Cider?
When you think of apple cider you may think of apple juice as well. These two drinks may seem similar simply because they both use apples but they are very different. Apple cider is an unfiltered non-alcoholic beverage that is made from apples. It also is unsweetened so you get that natural taste compared to apple juice. This beverage is typically called cider in most areas in the United States and Canada. There is also hard cider which contains alcohol. This type of drink is generally inexpensive to make and is made at farmsteads and local mills. It is popular during the season of autumn and served traditionally on Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas. Apple cider is also the official state beverage of New Hampshire as well.
The Modern Development of Apple Cider
Originally you would see apple cider being produced by crusher which would be used by a horse or a man. This would consist of a stone through which had a heavy circulating wheel which crushes the apples. There would also be a large manual screw press to get the juice from the pulp.
In today’s apple cider industry, most pressing operations use electric-hydraulic equipment to create the cider. They also use press cloths and plastic ranks which is popularly known as “rack and cloth press.”
The Modern Extraction Process
Now in today’s processing of apple cider when using optimal extraction methods it can take approximately one third of a bushel to make a gallon of cider. To quickly clarify, a bushel is 10 liters while a gallon is 3.78 liters. The apples are first washed and then cut to be ground into a mash. The mash has a consistency of applesauce. Now that you have this mash the next step is to layer it with cloth or on wooden/plastic racks. The hydraulic press squeezes these layers together or the mash can be distributed to a belt filter press that runs continuously.
This puts pressure of the pulp, squeezing it between two belts that presses the juice from the pulp. This is a highly efficient operation that removes the pulp and what you are left with is the juice. The juice is then refrigerated in large tanks and then pasteurized to extend to shelf life and remove any bacteria in the juice. After his process is complete it can be bottled and sold as the apple cider we all know of.
Going a Step Further with Hard Cider
If the producer is looking to make hard cider which contains alcohol, they must further treat the juice by exposing it to acetobacter which can make apple cider vinegar or distilled which makes apple brandy. What’s left after this efficient process is called promace. The promace is sold for cattle feed.
The Trending Cider Industry
The industry for cider has started to become one that is changing. Back in 1991, a Vermont-based Woodchuck had complete control of the American cider scene. It went mostly unchallenged for nearly two decades before competitors began to flood in. In just two years, major beverage companies dived into the market including MillerCoors, Heineken, Budweiser, and the Boston Beer Co.
With these new competitors sweeping it, it can only be clear that the industry is the fastest-growing segment for the landscape of beer and flavored malt. During a Chicago-based market research done by a firm there, they found out that sales have increased by over 75% in the 12-month period through the end of November 2014. With this rapid advancement, the cider industry is just over 1 percent in the market share. Many business owners in the industry are quick to say that cider has huge potential