Apples

The starting material for cider production is raw apples. A classification for these is offered in Table 5.1.

It is not necessarily the case that cider must be made from true cider apples. For example, cider has been made successfully from Bramley apples. Frequently the substrate derived directly from the apple is supplemented with Apple Juice Concentrate (AJC).

There are several advantages to using true cider varieties. They tend to have high sugar contents, of up to 15%. They display a range of acidities, from 0.1% to 1%. Their fibrous structure makes it easier to effect pressing and with higher yields of juice. It is possible to store them over a period of several weeks without losing texture, during which period their starch converts into sugar. Finally, they have a high tannin content (perhaps ten-fold higher than in dessert apples), this being important for body and mouthfeel. The polyphenols also inhibit breakdown of pectin, rendering the pulp from bittersweet apples less slimy and therefore easier to process.

The polyphenolics in apples comprise a range of oligomeric procyanidins based on the flavanoid (-)-epicatechin (Fig. 5.1). Also present are the phenolic acids chlorogenic and ^-coumaroyl quinic acid, as well as the glycosides, phloretin glucoside and xyloglucoside (Fig. 5.2).

Table 5.1 Types of cider apples.

Type of apple

Tannin content (%)

Acid content (%)

Bittersharp

>0.2

>0.45

Bittersweet

>0.2

<0.45

Sharp

<0.2

>0.45

Sweet

<0.2

<0.45

Fig. 5.1 Epicatechin.

OH Chlorogenic acid

OH Chlorogenic acid

OH O

Fig. 5.2 Phenolic species derived from apples.

Phloretin

OH O

Fig. 5.2 Phenolic species derived from apples.

The cider orchards are different for cider apples. The aesthetic appeal of the appearance and size of the fruit is relatively unimportant when compared with apples that are intended to be sold as eating fruit. Of more significance is the ease with which they can be harvested. The apples are for the most part grown on bush trees with more than 30 per acre (cf. 20 per acre for dessert apples). Cropping is biennial.

Most of the larger cider making companies possess their own orchards. They also enter into contracts with outside growers for a proportion of their raw material. Cider is usually produced from more than a single cultivar in order to achieve the preferred balance of acidity, sweetness and astringency/bitterness (Table 5.2). The gross composition of cider varieties is actually not very dissimilar to that of other apples and leads to a pressed juice with an overall composition depicted in Table 5.3.

The most likely limiting factor will be the assimilable nitrogen content, depending on the nutrient status of the trees in the orchard. By contrast, the total polyphenol content of apples tends to be inversely related to this nutrient status.

AJC is now extensively used in cider making. Typically it has a concentration of 70°Brix, the high osmotic pressure meaning that it can be stored for long periods and therefore purchased at economically favourable times. Sometimes, however, AJC made from true bittersweets is in short supply and it may be produced in-house. Alternatively, the apple juice may be supplemented with cane or beet sugar or hydrolysed corn syrup.

Apples are used when fully ripe and are customarily stored for several weeks so as to convert all of the starch into fermentable sugar. The apples are sorted and washed with the aim of eliminating debris and any rotten fruit.

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