Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

industry, which was once more widely spread, still survives an Norfolk, and has lately been revived in Kent, though, in both these counties, much of the fruit used in cider-making is imported from the west country and some from the continent. Speaking generally, the cider of Herefordshire is distinguished for its lightness and briskness, that of Somerset for its strength, and that of Devonshire for its lusciousness.

Cider used to be made in the south of Ireland, but the industry had almost become extinct until revived by the Department of Agriculture, which in 1904 erected a cider-making plant at Drogheda, Co. Louth, gave assistance to private firms at Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, and Fermoy, Co. Cork, and provided a travelling mill and press to work in the South Riding of Co. Tipperary. The results have been highly satisfactory, a large quantity of good cider having been produced.

Inasmuch as English orchards are crowded with innumerable varieties of cider apples, many of them worthless, a committee composed of members of the Herefordshire Fruit-Growers’ Association and of the Fruit and Chrysanthemum Society was appointed in 1899 to make a selection of vintage apples and pears best suited to Herefordshire and the districts adjoining. The following is the list drawn up by the committee:—

Apples.—Old Foxwhelp, Cherry Pearmain, Cowarne Red, Dymock Red, Eggleton Styre, Kingston Black or Black Taunton, Skyrme’s Kernel, Spreading Redstreak, Carrion apple, Cherry Norman, Cummy Norman, Royal Wilding, Handsome Norman, Strawberry Norman, White Bache or Norman, Broad-leaved Norman, Argile Grise, Bramtôt, De Boutville, Fréquin Audièvre, Medaille d’Or, the last five being French sorts introduced from Normandy about 1880, and now established in the orchards of Herefordshire.

Pears.—Taynton Squash, Barland, Oldfield, Moorcroft or Malvern Hill, Red-pear, Thurston’s Red, Longland, Pine pear.

No equally authoritative selection has been made for the Somerset and Devon districts, but the following varieties of cider apples are held in good repute in those parts:—Kingston Black, Jersey Chisel, Hangdowns, Fair Maid of Devon, Woodbine, Duck’s Bill, Slack-my-Girdle, Bottle Stopper, Golden Ball, Sugar-loaf, Red Cluster, Royal Somerset and Cadbury (believed to be identical with the Royal Wilding of Herefordshire). As a rule the best cider apples are of small size. “Petites pommes, gros cidre,” say the French.

Cider and perry not being taxable liquors in England, it is impossible to estimate with even an approach to accuracy the amount of the annual production of them. In 1896 Mr Sampson, the then secretary of the National Association of English Cider-makers, in his evidence before the royal commission on agriculture, put it at 55½ million gallons. Since that date the increased demand for these native wines has given such an impetus to the industry that this figure might with safety be doubled. In France official statistics are available, and these show not only that that country is the largest producer of cider (including perry) in the world, but that the output is yearly increasing. A great proportion, however, of what passes as cider in France is boisson, i.e. cider to which water has been added in the process of making or at a subsequent stage; while much of the perry is disposed of to the makers of champagne. Although some cider is made in sixty-five departments, by far the largest amount comes from the provinces of Normandy and Brittany. In Germany cider-making is a considerable and growing industry. Manufactories on a small scale exist in north Germany, as at Guben and Grünberg, but the centre of the industry is at Frankfort-on-Main, Sachsenhausen and the neighbourhood, where there are five large and twenty-five small factories employing upwards of 1000 hands. Large quantities of cider fruit are imported from foreign countries, as, speaking generally, the native-grown fruit used in Germany for cider-making consists of inferior and undersized table apples not worth marketing. The bottled cider for export is treated much like champagne, and is usually fortified and flavoured until, in the words of an acknowledged French authority, M. Truelle, it becomes a hybrid between cider and white wine rather than pure cider.

The practice which formerly prevailed in England of making cider on the farm from the produce of the home orchards has within the last few years been to a large extent given up, and, as in Germany and many parts of France, farmers now sell their fruit to owners of factories where the making of cider and perry is carried on as a business of itself. In these hand or horse power is superseded by steam and sometimes by electricity, as in the factory of E. Seigel in Grünberg, and the old-fashioned appliances of the farm by modern mills and presses capable of turning out large quantities of liquor. The clearing of the juice, too, which used to be effected by running it through bags, is in the factories accomplished more quickly by forcing it through layers of compressed cotton in a machine of German origin known as Lumley’s filter. The actual process of cider and perry making is simple, and resembles that of making grape wine. The fruit is ground or crushed in machines of various construction, the latest and most powerful being of American origin. The resulting pomace is pressed for the extraction of the juice, which is then run into vats, where it undergoes fermentation, which, converting the saccharine ingredients into alcohol and carbonic acid gas, turns it into cider. Cider made from a judicious mixture of several varieties of apples is to be preferred to cider made from one variety only, inasmuch as it is less difficult to find the requisite degrees of richness, astringency and flavour in several varieties than in one; but the contrary is the case with pears, of which the most noted sorts, such as the Barland, the Taynton Squash and the Oldfield, produce the best perry when unmixed with other varieties. Some fining of an albuminous nature is generally requisite in order to clear the juice and facilitate its passage through the filter, but the less used the better. The simplest and cleanest is skim milk whipped to a froth and blended gradually with the cider as it is pumped into the mixing vat. Many nostrums are sold for the clearing of cider, but none is necessary and most are harmful.

Of late years the practice has largely obtained of using preservatives for the purpose of checking fermentation. The principal preservatives employed are salicylic and boracic acids and formalin. The two former are ineffective except in quantities likely to prove hurtful to health, while formalin, in itself a powerful and deleterious drug, though it stops fermentation, renders the liquor cloudy and undrinkable. Other foreign ingredients, such as saccharin and porcherine, both coal-tar derivatives—the latter a recent discovery of a French chemist, after whom it is named—are used by many makers, chiefly for the purpose of rendering bad and therefore unwholesome cider palatable and saleable. Provided that cider and perry be properly filtered, and attention paid to perfect cleanliness of vessels and appliances, there is no need of preservatives or sweeteners, and their use ought to be forbidden by law in England, as it is in most continental states in the case of liquors to be consumed within their borders, though not, it is significant to note, in the case of liquors intended for exportation.

The wholesome properties of cider and perry when pure and unadulterated have been recognized by medical men, who recommend them as pleasant and efficacious remedies in affections of a gouty or rheumatic nature, maladies which, strange to say, these very liquors were once supposed to foster, if not actually to originate. Under a similar false impression the notion is general that hard rough cider is apt to cause diarrhoea, colic and kindred complaints, whereas, as a fact, disorders of this kind are conspicuous by their absence in those parts of the country where rough cider and perry constitute the staple drinks of the working-classes. This is especially the case in Herefordshire, which is said also to be the only county in England whence no instance of the occurrence of Asiatic cholera has ever been reported.

The importance which the cider industry has of late attained in England has been marked by the establishment of the National Fruit and Cider Institute at Long Ashton near Bristol. This institute, founded in 1903 at the instance of the Board of Agriculture, is supported by grants from the board, the Bath and West of England Society, the councils of the cider-producing