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Cider, Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions, and Making Your Own (Second Edition) Hardcover – October 6, 2008
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Slack-My-Girdle. Never has a fruit been better named. It's an apple, in this case, favored in Devonshire, England, by apple cider makers. A few pints of their good cider and you may want to slack your girdle, too. Crack the cover of Ben Watson's Cider, Hard and Sweet and you may find yourself planting apple trees against the day you too can fill your basement with jugs of fermenting apple juice. You would be following in a long, long tradition.
Watson's history of cider starts with the apple itself in the Tien-Shan mountains of far off Kazakstan. Alma-Ata, formerly the Kazak capital, translates as "father of apples." There have been a number of apple-centric books published of late, all of them echoing similar historic details. Watson distinguishes himself by focusing on the place of cider--the alcoholic beverage--in human history, particularly American history. "In 1726," the author tells us, "it was reported that a single village near Boston, consisting of about 40 families, put up nearly 10,000 barrels of cider. One historian stated that in the year 1767 a per capita average of 1.14 barrels of cider were consumed in Massachusetts." That'd be 35 gallons per person!
The arrival of breweries and brewers with German and eastern European immigration in the late 1800s, the codling moth, the exodus from farm to city of the majority American population, Prohibition, bad winters--all these factors and more led to the decline of cider making in America. A few farmers continued in the tradition; everyone else made and sold apple juice and called it cider. The tradition hung on in Britain and Europe, however, and new American cider makers are taking advantage of this living body of knowledge, planting European cider apples and trying some of the old varieties still available in this country. A book such as Cider will encourage the movement.
Watson gives clear instructions to get the cider enthusiast started, and then fills in with the kind of details that push the beginner deeper into the subject, deeper into the skills and legacy. A valuable resource for anyone interested in giving cider making a go, Cider, Hard and Sweet will be just as useful to anyone who has discovered the delicious world of cider, and wants to know more. --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A fascinating read, packed with minutiae on apples in history, science, the brewery, and the kitchen. -- Wine & Spirits
A thoughtful historic review...a clear, friendly handbook for the fermentation, evaluation, and appreciation of pure cider. -- Frank Browning, author of Apples
Fascinating and practical. -- People magazine
The extensive research from classic and modern sources makes this an informative and invaluable book for novice and experienced cidermakers. -- Paul Correnty, author of The Art of Cidermaking --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The book does describe cider making, but that is not the main focus of the book. Still, any self-respecting cider maker should have a copy.
However, if you're looking to make hard (alcoholic) cider the book only takes you half way. Anyone looking to do hard cider should buy a seperate homebrew book that goes into detail about the brew process. Combine it with the information from this book and you'll have some great hard cider.
And if you are just interested in apples, cider enjoyment, and a good dose of apple history, this is definitely a well-written and enjoyable book.
Several great lists of varieties and a good description of the cider apple classification methods is represented more clearly than I've found elsewhere.
A bit more clarification could have been given to the production process, as well as pressing details, but overall the book has been my favorite on the topic.
I also found the book very easy to read.