Book Review #1, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook

I picked up The New Cider Maker’s Handbook, A Comprehensive Guide for Craft Producers (Claude Jolicoeur, 2013 edition) from my local library.  Hardcover priced at $26.19 on Amazon.  I also found a few other cider-related books, and placed a hold on all four books they had available on hard cider in the network.  So, this is part one of at least four on cider-related books.  I’m a huge fan of libraries, especially in this case to preview books to determine which I may want to purchase.

Fun fact – I worked at my library in college for all four years!  Note that libraries can typically obtain books from any library in their network.  It they don’t have what you want, if you ask, they may use the interlibrary loan system to obtain it through the mail, or purchase it for the library.

I only read what I found interesting, as I’m honestly not interested in cidermaking.  I care more about what pertains to my enjoyment of cider and advancement of my knowledge about it.  This is definitely a handbook (lots of text and few photos), and has a cidermaking focus, so there may not be much added value for the non-cidermaker.  I nonetheless enjoyed flipping through it and finding the bits which were of interest to me.

new cider maker's handbook

Chapters:

Part I, Basics of Cidermaking
Materials and Supplies
The Raw Material: Apple Juice
Cider Preparation

Part II, Growing Apples for Cider
The Cider Orchard
The Varietal Selection

Part III, Juice Extraction
Apple Mills
Apple Presses

Part IV, The Apple Juice or Must
(note that “must” is a winemaker’s term for unfermented, sweet juice, akin to “wort” in brewing)
The Sugars
The Acids
The Tannins or Phenolic Substances
The Nitrogenous Substances
The Pectic Substances

Part V, Fermentation and Beyond
Blending
The Fermentation Process
Cider Diversity
Cider Troubles and How to Avoid Them

Appendix 1, Units and Measures

Appendix 2, Companion Materials

What I Found Interesting:

I especially liked the chapter on Apple Varieties in Part II, and all of Part IV (which was almost 50 pages, mostly composed of the chapter on sugars, with focus on measuring & calculations).

Notes on Apple Varieties

  • True cider orchards are mostly found in Europe (France, England, and Spain).
  • North American orchards mainly contain dessert apples, which don’t have as much body and mouthfeel that is obtained with cider apples with more tannins.
  • The “perfect” cider apple would have high sugar, medium acidity, and medium tannins.  There are not many of these, but Kingston Black, a famous English variety, would be an example.
  • Cider apples should have at least one of these features:  high sugar to produce alcohol, moderate or low acidity to balance blend, and some tannin to give body & mouthfeel.

Notes on Sugars

  • High sugar level in juice translates into high alcohol content after fermentation.
  • The Brix scale for residual sugar content in a liquid (sweetness) is primarily used in North America.
  • Apples with most sugar often have the most flavor, and produce a richer cider.
    • Fructose (levulose or fruit sugar) is the most abundant, 7-11% by mass.  It is a simple & reducing sugar, thus easier to transform to alcohol.
      • Simple = does not hydrolyse (break down) to give other sugars
      • Reducing = capacity to interact chemically with other compounds
    • Glucose (dextrose or grape sugar), 1-3% by mass, is also simple & reducing.  Its concentration decreases as an apple ripens.
    • Sucrose (saccharose or cane sugar) 2-5% by mass, is a double sugar (di-saccharide) and nonreducing.  However, it may be inverted, particularly by yeasts.
      • Inversion = chemical reaction where sucrose combines with a bit of water to give equal amounts glucose & fructose
    • There are also very low concentrations of other fermentable sugars, such as sorbitol.
      • Apple juice also contains very small amount of sorbitol (0.2-1%).
      • Pear juice has more sorbitol (up to 2%).
      • Sorbitol has a sweetening effect but technically isn’t a sugar, but a polyol (sugar alcohol)
      • Sorbitol is why dry perry is never as dry as a bone-dry cider.

A Chart on Specific Gravity, Acidity, & Apple Varieties

cider maker's handbook chart

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2 thoughts on “Book Review #1, The New Cider Maker’s Handbook

  1. The New Cidermaker’s Handbook is one of the best on the subject. Another is Andrew Lea’s Craft Cider Making, which just got updated and re-released in the U.K. (currently on amazon.co.uk; not yet on the U.S. site). I’d say that those two are both essential for the aspiring cidermaker.

    Other books worthy of inclusion into the cider geek’s library are the Ben Watson book of your 2nd book review, Apples To Cider by April White, and The World’s Best Ciders by Bradshaw and Brown.

    I’ve gathered up various resources–including books on cidermaking, apple growing, and apples in general, here:

    http://www.ciderschool.com/resources/

    Liked by 1 person

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