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Old 09-21-2013, 11:07 PM   #11
gregbathurst
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The acidity can change a lot over different vintages, in a hot year it is important to have sharps to balance the low acid varieties. In a cool year it's not so important.

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Old 09-22-2013, 05:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Albionwood View Post
Have to disagree with LeBreton, I think there are apples that do not make useful contributions to cider and can therefore be called "bad" cider apples. I'd put many of the commonest dessert fruits in this category. But then, I say that many of the widely-sold ciders in America are bad ciders, so maybe I'm not a reliable witness.
With respect, I think you may be confusing 'good' and 'bad' with cider you either like or don't. Just because you don't like most of the macro ciders in the US doesn't mean they're bad. Most that I've tried were well made and free of off flavors or faults. I don't like them either since they're much too sweet, but to call them 'bad' based on that is biased. Kinda like how people respond to the BMC bashing crowd on the rest of this forum. You may not like Bud Lite, but it's still a well made beer.

I'm just against labeling certain apples as being bad for cider. Even withing a single varietal of apple there is a range of what will be produced due to growing season, cloning history, and terroir. For example, your listed Golden Russet and Tompkins King as sweets as gown in your cold summer and sandy soil while around here (hot summer, limestone clay soil) both of those produce enough acid to be solidly in the sharp category.

I'd hate for people to discount a certain apple variety for cider because someone halfway around the world doesn't like it.



Oh, and this blend?

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40% Muscat deBernay, 30% King David, 30% King of Tompkins
. . . sounds delicious.
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Old 09-23-2013, 03:23 AM   #13
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LeBreton, you make some good points, and it's true that I conflated "don't like" with "bad." Still there are some macro ciders that I think ARE badly made - they are unbalanced, lack natural apple character, and try to make it up with flavoring - the dreaded "Jolly Rancher" character, or the weird caramel sweetness. Agree with you about "much too sweet" and would add that it isn't an apple sweetness, just a sugar addition to cover up the flaws (lack of flavor, acidity imbalance, etc).

As far as fruit goes, I still maintain there are varieties that are simply not good for cider. Granny Smith comes to mind - despite the marketing of a commercial cider with that name - it just doesn't have anything to contribute besides acidity, which can be obtained from much better cider apples. The OP wanted to know what blends would be good for cider, and I would never recommend GS. I would also call any apple that makes juice of less than 11 Brix (SG 1.045) bad for cider.

And you are right about that blend - it was delicious. KofT isn't generally thought of as a cider apple, but it gets really sweet here, perhaps because it ripens a little earlier than others and so is overripe by the time I am pressing... I don't know if it contributed much flavor, but the KD and MdB sure did.

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Old 09-23-2013, 03:33 AM   #14
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The acidity can change a lot over different vintages, in a hot year it is important to have sharps to balance the low acid varieties. In a cool year it's not so important.
You're probably right, I wouldn't know because we basically never get a hot summer here. Even in the sunniest summers I sweat my fruit to get as much sugar and as little acid as possible, and still struggle to keep acidity within my target range.
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Old 09-23-2013, 04:50 AM   #15
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I think you would find your generalisations don't hold for other climates. Grannysmith was bred in a warm climate, sydney Australia. If it ripens in warm conditions it develops real fruitiness, probably quite different to what you are used to. I agree that there aren't bad apples, just some are better than others in different circumstances. In a cool climate you will do better with "old world" varieties, because the tannin and cider flavours make up for the lack of fruity flavours. In warmer climates you get a "new world" style cider flavour, with fruit flavours more up-front, the tannins don't need to be so dominant. They are different styles of cider but both have their adherents. I like both so long as they are well made, but not too sweet please.

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Old 09-23-2013, 06:39 PM   #16
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Yes, I try to always note that my climate, soil, and water conditions are significantly different from almost anyone else's, and so my experience may not be a reliable guide for anyone in hot-summer areas. (Note however that other cider makers in hot-summer areas of northern California get similar results from King David.)

I am somewhat surprised to read your defence of Grannys though, because even the commercial fruit here - grown in very hot-summer regions - doesn't seem to have much flavor or fruitiness. It is a popular alternative to the overly-sweet Delicious varieties, but Fuji beats the pants off Granny for flavor, IMO. Maybe Aussie growers are use different practices - perhaps less fertilizer and less irrigation? - than the Washington State growers.

I agree completely with your observations about climate affecting style. Well put.

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Old 09-23-2013, 09:38 PM   #17
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Re grannysmith, the can develop a lot more flavour if left longer on the tree to ripen. Personally I would prefer a grannysmith to a fuji for eating, though perhaps that is nationalistic pride.

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Old 09-24-2013, 12:50 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Albionwood View Post
As far as fruit goes, I still maintain there are varieties that are simply not good for cider. Granny Smith comes to mind - despite the marketing of a commercial cider with that name - it just doesn't have anything to contribute besides acidity, which can be obtained from much better cider apples. The OP wanted to know what blends would be good for cider, and I would never recommend GS. I would also call any apple that makes juice of less than 11 Brix (SG 1.045) bad for cider.
It seems as though were are generally in agreement, as Granny Smith around here has all the complexity and flavor of tart tap water. I just like to believe that someone, somewhere could make a great cider out of it with the right blend and execution, apparently Australia still has a chance!

You raise a very good point about apples with low brix. There are apples out there that even fermented out completely would be unstable, and if going for an arrested fermentation would be near useless. I may have missed the forest for the trees on that one, although I would think that most named apple cultivars cross that threshold as we humans tend to have a sweet (or alcoholic) tooth.


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And you are right about that blend - it was delicious. KofT isn't generally thought of as a cider apple, but it gets really sweet here, perhaps because it ripens a little earlier than others and so is overripe by the time I am pressing... I don't know if it contributed much flavor, but the KD and MdB sure did.
I think we'll chalk that one up to terroir. Here in Tompkins county it grows vigorously and develops a very rich flavor. Technically classified as a sharp, it's commonly ~14 brix and used as a multipurpose apple, with fresh, culinary and even cider applications (at least around here). Although most wouldn't regard it as a 'cider apple' it would seem that, historically speaking, the US has practically no cultivars grown exclusively for cider. Virginia's Hews Crab being the only one I can think of and it is quite geographically limited. It would seem that cider was made from whatever apples grew well locally, with first rate fruit being sold for eating and seconds being turned into cider for sale as a value added product as well as for in-house consumption, or dehydrated and shipped for processing elsewhere, depending on the market value.

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I think you would find your generalisations don't hold for other climates. Grannysmith was bred in a warm climate, sydney Australia. If it ripens in warm conditions it develops real fruitiness, probably quite different to what you are used to. I agree that there aren't bad apples, just some are better than others in different circumstances. In a cool climate you will do better with "old world" varieties, because the tannin and cider flavours make up for the lack of fruity flavours. In warmer climates you get a "new world" style cider flavour, with fruit flavours more up-front, the tannins don't need to be so dominant. They are different styles of cider but both have their adherents. I like both so long as they are well made, but not too sweet please.
*slow clap*
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Old 09-24-2013, 01:35 AM   #19
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This year (southern hemisphere summer-autumn) I had warm, sunny weather right through ripening, temperatures in the mid to high 20s C and no cloudy days, except a few days rain. My Grannysmiths developed a red blush from all the sun and 16 brix. I still wouldn't say they were great cider apples, but had a fair bit of flavour and were worth using. My best apples this year were egremont russets, they got to 25 brix.

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Old 09-24-2013, 03:40 AM   #20
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Wish I had some Egremonts - I grow Roxbury and Golden Russet, and Ashmead's Kernel which to me is like a russet, but no Egs.

Granny Smith didn't work out well enough for me, it grew vigorously and fruited well but the fruit just wasn't good enough - it was outcompeted by Rhode Island Greening - so I reworked my trees 3 years ago, and am now getting Karmijn de Sonnaville (strictly for the table) and King David!

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