cider trees

pouring cider in Asturias, Spain
You always pour cider from a height in order to aerate it. The servers become quite expert at this maneuver!

Spain has a rich wine culture as we all know. But the region I’m from venerates cider (hard cider). Cider has its own culture, festivals and folklore. Cider is truly an art form in Asturias.

As an Asturian I learned to appreciate it very early on. The showmanship of the pour and the aroma permeating an afternoon of tapas are a defining part of the experience at a Chigre (Asturian pub). Many dishes with cider are part of everyday menus, like “chorizo a la sidra” (chorizo sausage cooked in cider) or “almejas a la sidra” (clams cooked in cider).

I’ve witnessed and partaken in the cider making process from a very early age. My uncle Zoilo has an apple orchard and every fall we would help pick the apples that he would later press into cider.

For a long time I have imagined having a few apple trees of my own for cider. This year I finally took the plunge and got a few trees. Regular eating apples don’t make good cider, just like good table grapes don’t make good wine.

After a lot of reseach I ordered from Trees of Antiquity. Everyone at Trees of Antiquity was incredibly helpful and knowledgable. I think I got some great advice to help me begin my front-yard orchard.

cider trees
With just five trees, my small front-yard orchard has five different varieties of heirloom trees. I can already taste the cider…!

I started with five very distinct cider apple varieties: Spitzenburg, Golden Russet, Black Twig, Ashmead’s Kernel, and Bramley’s Seedling. Every tree is special in its history and properties, and all of them have an story that’s part of American history. Like, the Spitzenburg apple has a recorded history in the States from before the 1800s and was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite apple. This apple is sharp and sweet. With these heirloom trees and the help from local orchards I hope to make some tasty cider.

Until my own cider is ready–this could take a while–I’ll be buying cider. Angry Orchard has become a popular option and is widely available. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, you must try Arsenal’s ciders.

If you haven’t tried cider yet, please give it a try. It’s a refreshing beverage for a hot summer day, or any day.

Buen provecho!


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