October is National Cider Month, and here we celebrate the best thing that ever happened to apples, with some amazing facts and a tasty cider supper.
If you take a trip to the beautiful city of Hereford when you are on an autumn break at Forest of Dean, the first thing to hit you is the scent of apples. Hereford is the home of Bulmer’s cider and, unlike beer which can be produced at any time of year (and doesn’t smell great when it’s brewing), cider follows the cycle of the seasons. Peak production is when the apples are ready in the autumn.
CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) have designated May and October as National Cider Months. May is when apple trees blossom in a froth of white flowers, and when last year’s cider is ready for drinking. On the other side of the cider year, October is when the apples are harvested, and cider is made. That’s what sweetens the Hereford air.
Cider baptisms and other fun facts
Cider has been woven into the natural fabric of the British countryside for centuries and should probably be our national drink. But how much do you know about this delicious, appley, alcoholic refresher?
Did you know?
• Whilst beer is brewed and spirits are distilled, cider, like wine, is ‘made.’ Never make the mistake of calling a cidermaker a brewer!
• Cider can be made with any apples, but cidermakers traditionally grow specific varieties which have some wonderous names such as Slap- ma-girdle, Ten Commandments and Brown Snout
• After a long decline, cider apple orchards are once again flourishing, and conservationists are keen to protect and revive ancient varieties. Visit Cotehele, near to Deerpark, where the Mother Orchard has over 300 trees and 125 apple varieties.
• Cider’s pear-based sister, perry, has EU Protected Geographic Indication status in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire. This traditional perry is a world away from the mass-produced products on supermarket shelves. Search it out, direct from the local farms, when you stay at Forest of Dean - it’s delicious.
• Here in the UK, we drink more cider than anywhere else in the world, with an average annual consumption of 22 pints per person – down from a peak of 30 pints in 2010
• Avalon, the paradise island of Arthurian legend, means Isle of Apples. Perhaps they had discovered the secret to fermenting the apples to make cider
• In the middle ages, babies were baptized with cider rather than water – it was probably safer than the untreated water of the day.
Cider supper party
To celebrate National Cider month, why not throw a cider supper party. We’ve done some research and put together a tempting menu for you:
How about steamed mussels with cider, spring onions & cream from BBC Good Food. If you’re staying at Ardgartan Argyll, you might even be able to forage the mussels fresh from the shore.
Cider has been paired with pork for centuries, probably because pigs would snuffle for windfalls in orchards. Cider-braised pork with cream and mushrooms from Delia Smith is a classic dish that captures perfectly the essence of autumn.
In 1999, inspired by a project to celebrate Cornwall’s orchards, farmer Andy Atkinson planted three orchards. In 2001, the first of his ciders went on sale under the Cornish Orchards banner. Cornish Orchards now make a range of excellent ciders, some of which you can buy from the Forest Hub at Deerpark. Use Cornish Orchards Farmhouse Cider for their delicious cider & Bramley apple cake and then you can drink what’s left!
And cocktails too…
Try this recipe for Blackberry Cider Fizz from Olive Magazine. A gin-based cocktail, the gin they recommend is Williams’s Elegant Gin, which is distilled in Herefordshire, bringing us full circle to those apple-scented autumn days in Hereford.
Autumn breaks in National Cider Month
Come and stay at one of our locations this autumn and enjoy this fruitful, colourful, cider season. If cooking up a three-course meal is too much faff for your holiday, we have many other dining options, from meals at Forest Retreat to your own personal in-cabin chef. Whatever you decide to eat, make sure you accompany it with a refreshing glass of cider.