3 out of 5 stars

Generally, I am a beer drinker, but there are certain times over the summer when I like to have a cider or two. The acidity of the drink is very thirst-quenching and when chilled very refreshing. And I tend to think that it is one of your five a day…

Even though we think of apples as the archetypical English fruit, they originated from the mountains of Kazakhstan, where the wild Malus sieversii can still be found today. Those fruits are very unpalatable. However, with careful selection of hundreds of years, we have ended up with thousands of varieties of delicious apples that are now grown all over the world. There are the well-known dessert apples, crab apples, cooking apples, and of course, cider apples.

They have fantastic names too. For example, there are apples named Ball’s Bittersweet, Improved Hangdown, Bastard Underleaf and the best cider apple that there is, Kingston Black. I didn’t realise that one of my favourite apples, Egremont Russet is used for cider too. Apart from the Egremont, you wouldn’t want to eat any of these though, they are bitter, full of tannins and sour. But those qualities make them perfect for juicing and fermenting into cider.

I quite liked this book, it is a reasonable introduction to all manner of things about cider, with chapters on drink styles, orchards and the science of making cider. It is fairly comprehensive, but those looking for more depth would be wiser looking in other books. The writing is clear and concise and Cook really knows his stuff. There were a few new things that I learnt from here, for example, I didn’t think that you could grow apples in Sweden and Canada, let alone that they had a growing number of cider producers.

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