Hard cider has been around for thousands of years. People have been fermenting apples and enjoying their taste in many ways. However, many people don’t have a firm grasp on the history of hard cider and what it entails. Check out the fascinating history of hard cider below.
What Is Hard Cider?
Hard cider, as opposed to nonalcoholic cider, is made by fermenting fruit juice. While this fermentation process is usually done with apples, you can make cider with virtually any fruit. It also has several names. To complicate things a bit, Europeans refer to all non-fermented apple juice as “juice,” while fermented apple juice is called “cider.”
Many people don‘t know this, but until recently, apples were only used for cider. Back then, they were too bitter to eat! For more interesting facts, let’s take a closer look at the fascinating history of hard cider below.
Cider is older than you might think. It was popular with the Hebrews and Akkadians. They called it “shekhar” and “sikkaru,” respectively. There’s evidence of apple trees growing along the Nile as far back as 1300 BCE. While there‘s no concrete evidence that ancient peoples fermented the drink, we know that Egyptians loved alcohol, and very few ancient societies ate physical apples. They were far more likely to drink it. This gives a bit of evidence for the possibility that it was a popular drink during that time.
We see the first written mention of cider in 55 BCE when the Romans sailed the British Isles. They noticed the locals were drinking a drink similar to cider and fell in love with it. Shortly after that, cider spread through the Roman Empire and throughout Europe. Everyone partook in the tasty beverage, from Germanic tribes to the Normans who conquered England and brought apple orchards with them. This is where we get the word “cider” to begin with.
Coming to America
We only have to look nine years after the Plymouth landing in 1620 to find records of European colonists planting apple orchards in Massachusetts Bay. Cider was so common that they even gave a diluted version to children called “applekin.” They also learned that pressing and fermenting fresh apple juice preserved a large fruit harvest.
We started to see a decline in cider around the 1800s to the 1920s. The Industrial Revolution brought people from the farm to the city to work in factories, causing orchards to become abandoned and reducing production. Then, during Prohibition, much of the boozy substance was outlawed altogether. Luckily, today, we’re seeing a revitalization of cider products sold everywhere in coffee shops and cafés, especially around the fall and winter seasons.
In short, cider has a full and illustrious history. Given its recent popularity, we can also say that it’s here to stay. Cider will never leave our collective consciousness; it can only improve as our fermenting processes become more advanced. Drink up and enjoy!