Our Forest Garden cider is a blend of six apples (northern spy, courtland, idared, jona gold, red prince, golden russet- from the talented orchardists at Twin Pines) and maple syrup from our farm and Erin co-op. We add sulfites to stabilize our product as well as a filtration protocol. This product is carbonated with CO2. I use the same recipe for every batch of this cider- sort of.
We are just coming up to using our last totes of our 2017 blend. Our 2018 blend is currently maturing in the tank room. The two different years taste very different.
The taste of cider is affected by a plethora of factors. The soil the apples were grown in and the environmental conditions of the orchard (ie drought, exorbitant amounts of rain, amount of sun – and all this is known as terroir), yeast choices (wild vs. pitched and all that that encompasses), oxygen the fermented juice is exposed to, sugars (from the apples and from additionally added steeped fruit if that’s what the recipe requires), and temperature all affect the sensory experience of the cider. And if you’re super small batch like us, that taste will continually change as the cider ages. It will even change after it’s stabilized and bottled. It changes when it’s bottled conditioned and aged for 5 weeks, and again when it’s allowed to age for 5 months.
Working with cider and specifically working with small batch craft cider is a constant reminder that you’re working with a wild thing.
Our largest batches are 700L because that’s what our equipment allows for. Every couple of months I’m making a new batch of Forest Garden, and every batch is a little bit different. This latest batch for example has nutty notes, a bit more funk and presents sweeter than our last bottling run, despite using just a little less maple syrup. In the process of adding depth to the batch I blended some of the 2018 must to the 2017 batch..and voila!
This process is exciting, terrifying and constantly keeping me on my toes. It’s also the greatest learning tool I could ask for- the experience of seeing the continuous change of our product and becoming attuned to its needs and shades, so to speak. So have fun being apart of the cider’s journey with us and let it play with your sensory experience, one batch to the next.