Posted by: Footler PJ16 OCT 2008
October has been designated as National Cider and Perry Month by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). To those of us who live in cider-making areas the autumn is also Crawl to Work Behind a Slow Tractor Towing an Overloaded Trailer Full of Apples Season. Oh, but it’s worth it!
Commercial brewing, even of real ales, can take place all year round but real cider and perry are best produced when the fruit is ripe. Most cider producers use a mixture of apple varieties. Their names conjure up images of ye olden days.
Examples include Kingstone Black, Redstreak, Foxwhelp, Brown Snout, Fillbarrel, Hangdown, Hoary Morning and Slack-My-Girdle.
Cider making is an ancient art. Cider is mentioned in the Bible as sheikh’ar. The Greeks knew it as sikera and the Romans as sicera. To the Anglo-Saxons it was seider and they made it by crushing apples in a hollowed out log and leaving them to ferment. The Romans also described making piracium or perry.
Real cider devotees believe that the Romans only came to Britain to taste proper cider and that the Normans did not so much invade Britain as escape from the stuff produced by the French in Normandy.
In any event we now know that cider is as good for us as red wine when drunk in recommended units. It is an excellent source of antioxidants and can also been taken to relieve rheumatism (often with honey) and for colds (hot and with added spices).
Incidentally, although cider is available in many countries you may need to be careful how you ask for it. As I discovered recently, the Spanish word for cider is sidra but their acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is SIDA. So do remember to roll your rs!