Hard Cider

Tips for choosing the best varieties of apples for just the right flavor.

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If you'd like to try your hand at making hard cider, you'll first have to start with the right tree. Hard cider generally requires an apple that has a fairly high percentage of bitter or high-tannin properties. Here, says apple grower Terry Harrison, of Sonoma, California, are some good varieties to consider:

  • 'Kingston Black' apples have just the right blend of acid, sugar and tannin to give cider straight from the apple; you don't have to add any other variety. USDA Zones 6-9.
  • 'Arlington Mill', USDA Zones 5-8, is such a bitter variety that these apples are usable for only 10 to 15 percent of a cider's composition and must be blended with other varieties such as 'Golden Delicious' or 'Jonathan'.
  • 'Roxbury Russet', USDA Zones 5-8, adds a nice depth of flavor and mellowness to cider.
  • 'Neehou' is a sharp, sweet apple that's soft and easily bruised. USDA Zones 6-9.

These varieties can also put a little extra punch into your sweet cider. A bushel of apples yields about two gallons of cider, and five trees will generally produce about 50 quarts.

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