More on cider

I posted the other day about our visit to the Poverty Lane Orchard in New Hampshire, home of Farnum Hill Cider. I closed with a promise of more images, so here is another. Before discussing the significance of these barrels let me describe the basics of cider production. One begins with quality apples and juices them. Whether blended at this point or not the juice is inoculated with yeast and stored in sealed containers. If you remember your high school science class you will recall that yeast will respire in the presence of oxygen just as we do. Once the oxygen has been depleted however the yeast have the capacity to respire in the absence of oxygen via a process called anaerobic respiration. Remember that the byproduct of this anaerobic fermentation is ethanol. Once this primary fermentation is complete the cider will be racked (siphoned from the barrel, leaving behind the yeast sediments) and then undergo a secondary fermentation to age and to allow the drink to mature and develop its unique character. In particular the aging process allows tannins (from the seeds, skins, and stems of the fruit and from the barrels themselves), which are acidic and act as a preservative, to settle and to reveal the true character of the cider. Character, in this case, being the particular and complex blend of sugars and a myriad other variables which define any particular cider variety. So, what about these barrels from Farnum Hill? Ryan describes these as being neutral because they do not impart any woody or oak flavor to the cider, they allow for very little oxygen transfer through their walls, and they can be filled to the tippy-top (they provide little head room). These Farnum Hill beauties were first used at a winery on Long Island for more than a decade before making their way to New Hampshire. Wood barrels are typically the only vessels used for fermenting single varieties. If you look closely you will see writing, in chalk, which indicates varietal types including Ash K. (Ashmead’s Kernel) and Spitz (Esopus Spitzenberg). Most barrels of varietal cider are used to tweak larger blended lots when something highly acidic or in possession of some other favorable or otherwise flavorful attribute is required. Stay tuned, more images to come.

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14 thoughts on “More on cider

  1. What are the barrels made of? I do like unoaked Chardonnay, myself, and hadn’t thought about how cider is kept. We have backyard cider-makers everywhere here, and storage is just in saved jugs. I’ve never seen that it is kept in barrels, that fermentation is part of the process. Just so interesting. Thanks for the little tour, I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    • You’ve been very busy Tammy. The flood of commentary was not necessary – though very much appreciated. Before I forget – the cider is mildly alcoholic, 6-7% by volume. I’m sorry your spring has been slow, very sorry. The same has been happening to us … snow showers each and every day for the last while. Not much accumulation however. This coming weekend promises temperatures in the 50s. I think this is really it … I think our spring is really just around the corner. Good luck with the lambs … when did you say they are expected? D

    • By the way … you Vermonter you … what the heck does the last icon on this sign mean? I hope this shortlink works …

      http://wp.me/a1yRFa-2VE

      Hotel/lodging
      Food
      Antiques
      Hiking
      … and … what the heck?

      Joanna and I BOTH searched the internet and for the life of us could not figure out what the window-like thing means.

      D

      • Darn, I cannot see what the sign is – the link just sends me to “Page not found!” Please, I can’t wait to solve this one for you! I am looking forward to being a smug Vermonter! Also, what are the barrels made of – oak? Thanks!

      • O.k., got it and am doing a little investigating. As in, I don’t know (I’m guessing “Ski area”!) and have sent it to my kids and husband to ask their opins!
        🙂

        • If you’re not sure … and neither Joanna nor I could find it on the web …. what kinda dumb sign is it? Aren’t the icons supposed to be logical … such that anyone (speaking any language) can make sense of them? Someone has got to talk to someone who has to talk to someone who has to talk to the person (committee) that came up with that #&@^!&*@(! icon! I eagerly await your decision. Ski area … how so? D (F-R-U-S-T-R-A-T-E-D)

    • Thanks. I thought this one was nice too. I’m having a tough time figuring out what WordPress folks will enjoy. I was surprised that more didn’t appreciate this one. Glad you liked it though. I’ve been enjoying your recent images from NY … keep ’em coming. D

  2. It’s such a scientific process! These barrels remind me of a winery we toured when we were in the Napa Valley a few years ago. So the cider has an alcohol content? Like that of wine? I’m not a wine lover but do like some champagne. I think I prefer something fruity vs. dry. An expert on subject I am not.

  3. Love those shapes, textures and golden brown hues. Your explanation has given me a new appreciation for apple cider. Who knew?

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