Recommended List of Cider Apples
Recommended List of Cider Apples from my Langley, B.C., experience by Derek Bisset phone: 604 888 7867
e-mail: 'derekbsst' and the symbol for 'at' plus 'gmail.com'
Somerset vintage late mid season bittersweet cider apple.grown in modern bush cider orchards.
Fruit medium-large , conical , yellow with dull red flush here in BC.
Blossom mid to late May (Day 15).
Tree has moderate vigour making a mid size tree on M26. Growth is spreading with strong side branches which can easily overtake leader . Heavy crops every year .
Relatively disease-free with no evidence of scab . Some resistance to canker.
Fruit drops in early to mid October but can hang later . Can be milled immediately but stores into November
Juice is superior for cider with good sugar , mild tannin and earthy aroma for those who like a very full, strong flavour.
Somerset vintage late bittersweet cider apple highly recommended for modern bush orchards
Fruit medium but can be small, flattened round always coloured dark red .Regular crops
Blossom mid to late May (Day 15 self-fertile).
Tree is a very weak grower and needs at least MM106 to make a moderate size tree .Trees have spreading branches and leader can be lost .Potash fertilizing recommended .
Disease free with some resistance to canker .
Fruit is late dropping mid to late October and stores well for milling later in November .
Juice is excellent for cider , fruity with good aroma and pleasant , mild tannin. Low acid needs to be blended with sharp juice for balanced cider. Cider is light, soft,and with a fruity aroma .
Somerset vintage late bittersweet cider apple grown extensively in modern orchards .
Fruit is small to medium, conical with bright red colour . Heavy, regular crops.
Cracking and russetting reported in England not observed here .
Blossom mid to late May (Day 22).
Excellent tree form , mid size on M26 with upright growth making a neat christmas tree shaped centre leader tree with very little pruning or shaping required. Good for hedgerow .
Disease free with some resistance to canker .
Late fruit drops in late October, can hang later and stores very well for milling in November.
Juice has a pleasant tannin and produces cider with a light floral aroma .
Muscadet de Dieppe is commonly available It produces well for me although there are numerous reports of poor productivity.It blooms early (Day 5). It makes good full, astringent cider although it has a couple of drawbacks ; it is very biennial , alternating heavy crop with no crop at all ; it is ready in August and doesn't store so that fermentation must take place fast in warm conditions , not the best for good cider .
Michelin and Tremlett's Bitter are available and often recommended as good producers . I have found disease to be a problem with both . Michelin blooms Day 15 and produces very well but is a weak grower and has been canker prone The juice is good for blending although not considered vintage .Tremlett's Bitter blooms early (Day 5) and is reported by others to produce well but without spraying develops severe scab to the point that all leaves are lost midsummer and the tree weakens . The juice has a hard tannin suitable for blending .
Stoke Red looks promising . It blooms late (Day 25). It is a vigorous grower with large crops of small to medium fruit of vintage quality .
Marechal blooms late (Day 25) and is turning out to be a large, vigorous tree also with heavy crops and with fair resistance to disease.
Kingston Black (blooms Day 15) and produces what is considered the most valuable juice. It has a reputation as a canker-prone variety but avoided disease for a surprising length of time
Brown's Apple (blooms Day 18) and Sweet Coppin (blooms Day 15) so far have not grown well .
Foxwhelp as it appears locally has come to be called Fauxwhelp as it bears no resemblance to the true English variety which is a small, red, early apple.
Fauxwhelp is early, but is large, green-yellow with some red striping . One suggestion is that it is from an interstem variety which got out of control and came to be propagated as Foxwhelp.
Other cider varieties I propagate are Bulmer's Norman (Day 10 triploid), Frequin (Rouge) (unknown bloom date), Harry Master's Jersey (Day 15), Porter's Perfection (Day 10), Stayman's Winesap (Day 12 triploid), and another variety just called 'Stayman's.
cider – is apple juice fermented somewhat in the manner of a white wine. It can be made with any apple, but traditional cider varieties give special qualities to the cider.
bitter - tannin in juice from these apples gives cider with good colour and a fullness to taste not found in cider made from dessert apples only.
bittersweet – has high sugar content as well as high tannin. Most of the best cider apples are in this group but juice requires blending with sharps to produce a balanced cider .
sharp – often cooking or crab apples are used to blend and provide sharp flavour in cider since many of the best cider apples lack acidity, Acidity gives cider a brisk, refreshing quality and helps with preservation. It can be overpowering in new cider but reduces over time and what was thought to be an unpleasant sour apple cider kept for two or three years can improve remarkably.
bittersharp - relatively uncommon has bitterness and acidity
hard/soft tannin – differentiates between qualities of tannin in different apples . Dabinett has a full, soft pleasant tannin while Tremblett's Bitter tannin is is harsh and has to be used carefully .
Early/mid/late – is used to refer to blossom, picking and ripening dates .
biennial - older varieties of cider apple all tend to become biennial bearing heavy crops one year and none the following. Unfortunately this appears to be related to climate and all varieties with the tendency will come into phase over time with the same on and off years. In most cases experiment has shown that thinning does little to help. Modern varieties mentioned as being suitable for bush orchards are chosen to avoid biennialism .
blossom - most cider apples blossom around mid-May in the Lower Mainland
falling date - most cider apples unlike dessert apples are not picked from the tree, but are allowed to fall or are shaken down and picked from grass sward..To do this a date when most apples drop is useful.
ripening date – may not coincide with picking. It is important to allow maximum sugar to develop before milling and late varieties are stored until testing shows full ripeness.Dabinett may drop in October and be kept several weeks into November before milling. Waiting may also be useful to cool cider-making conditions since most cider makers want slow fermentations .
tree size - results from a combination of rootstock effects and vigour . Thus a weak grower like Dabinett produces a very small tree on M26 and a moderate size tree on MM106 while Yarlington and Chisel Jersey produce moderate size trees on M26 . Larger trees are recommended for cider apples since the fruit tend to be numerous and smaller to be shaken down for picking They require less pruning since size and appearance of fruit is less an issue compared to dessert apples.
disease – canker is the main concern because of tree losses. All the cider apple trees get canker and none have complete resistance . However some trees like Michelin become cankered very quickly in our conditions while Chisel Jersey and Dabinett appear to resist infection for longer . Yarlington has avoided infection longest for me . Scab is less of a concern although I have found I could not grow Tremblett's Bitter well because scab caused it to lose leaves so badly it went into decline . Presumably spraying would correct this although clean culture alone did not .
single variety – none of the cider apples used alone produces a rounded, full cider. They are best in a blend which has juice with tannin acid and sugar in balance as well as some apples chosen for aroma .
blending - is required to produce a balanced cider with suggested one third of each : cider apples for bitterness , crab or sharp cooking for acid , and dessert for sweetness and aroma .
milling – apples varieties selected for cider have milling qualities not found in dessert or dual purpose apples . Unlike most apples which tend to mush to a puree when milled, these apples come out of the mill as chips with almost a sawdust consistency . A puree is very hard to press since there are no channels for the juice . Think of trying to press applesauce . Cider apple pulp appears to be drier but actually produces more juice because it runs more freely
Publication from Washington State University:
Hard Cider Production & Orchard Management in the Pacific Northwest. PNW 621.
G.A. Moulton, C.A. Miles, and J. King.
The New Cider Maker's Handbook (October 2013) by Claude Jolicoeur, Quebec City, Canada. Claude is a recently retired professor from Laval University in Quebec City.
For more information, see his web site http://www.cjoliprsf.ca
"I would like to thank NAFEX for the great discussions we have had. Many discussions here and in other cider making forums gave me ideas and informations, and all this evolved into one or another of the articles of the book".