Turning leaves and brisk mornings make us crave crisp apples in all forms, from naked slices to fermented fun. The latter claims the honor of being the oldest alcoholic beverage in America: Early settlers from England packed their cider recipes within them in the 1600s. Safer than water, cider was the beverage of choice for men, women and children alike; in the late 1700s, annual cider consumption averaged around 40 gallons per person (kiddos too). History has it that founding father John Adams drank a tankard of cider every morning with breakfast. Does a body/country good. Cider fell out out favor with the Temperance Movement, and never recovered its pre-Prohibition popularity, eclipsed by other fermentable crops with single-season yields (like barley). Today, around 7 million cases are sold in the U.S. annually, a pale shadow of the 22 million cases guzzled in the late 1800s. Even so, current consumption marks a revival of sorts for the apple tipple. To stoke the renaissance, we explore some interesting variants on classical cider, from hybrids to desserts. A cider a day keeps the doctor… at bay?
Traditionally from northern France, pommeaus mix apple brandy with apple juice—all aged in oak barrels. The resulting goodness—bright and refreshing—pairs perfectly with hors d’oeuvres or dessert.
A relative of cider, perry follows the same formula as cider, sub fermented pears. A centuries-old tradition in England, South Wales and France, perry is made from a wild hybrid pear that is higher in tannin and acid than their eating or cooking siblings.
From our friends at Food52, a savory take on cider. This braised pork taco recipe requires forethought but scant skill. The slaw—featuring Granny Smith apples, watercress, red cabbage and carrot—pairs perfectly with the sweet cider-cooked pork. And what’s better? The leftovers!
Cider Bread Pudding
adapted from CiderCraft Magazine
Yields 8 servings
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup hard cider
5 Persephone croissants, cubed
3 apples, peeled and diced
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and cider until thoroughly combined. Add cubed croissants and coat evenly with egg mixture; set aside to soak. Meanwhile, mix apples, sugar and cornstarch, tossing apples until coated.
Pour croissant mix into a 9-inch pie pan, spreading evenly. Layer apple mix on top, again evenly. Place pan in oven and cook for 40 minutes.
Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, drizzled with the Hot Cakes Rye Whiskey Caramel Sauce we stock at Persephone. Store in the fridge.