Cyder, or Cider, a sharp, cool, and vinous beverage, made by fermenting the juice of apples. Some connoisseurs in this liquor are of opinion, that the juice of the more delicate table-fruit is generally more cordial and pleasant than that of the wild or harsh kinds; though others assert the latter to be in many respects preferable.
The apples should remain on the tree till they are thoroughly ripe, when they ought to be gathered with the hand in dry weather, that they may be protected both from bruises and from moisture. They are then to be sorted, according to their various degrees of maturity, and laid in separate heaj s, in order to sweat; in consequence of which they greatly improve. — This practice, however, appears to be useful only for such fruit as is not perfectly ripe, though some recommend it as being proper for all apples. The duration of the time of sweating may be determined by the flavour of the fruit, as different kinds require various lengths of time; namely, from eight or ten days to six weeks. The harsher and more crude the apples are, the longer it is necessary that they should remain in a sweating state, and not only be well dried, but the rotten parts carefully pared, before they are exposed.
The utility of the sweating practice is acknowledged in all the cyder countries, though various methods have been adopted in following it; as the apples are piled up either in.the open air, or under cover in houses. In the South-hams, a middle way has been adopted, to avoid the fermentation occasioned by piling them up in rooms, and which we recommend as the best, and most rational. Heaps of fruit are raised in an open part of the orchard, where, by means of a free air ;and less heat, the desired maturity is gradually effected, with an inconsiderable waste of the juice and decay of the fruit, which thus becomes almost totally divested of rancidity. And though a few apples will rot even in this manner, they are still lit for use : all of them continue plump and full of juice, and heighten in a considerable degree the colour of the liquor, without imparting to it any disagreeable smell or taste.
The fruit is then to be ground till the rind and kernels are well bruised; a process which will considerably improve the flavour and strength of the liquor, when it should be allowed to stand for a day or two, in a large open vessel. It is next pressed between several hair-cloths, and the liquor received in a vat, whence it is removed into casks, which ought to be placed in a cool situation, or in the free air, with their bung-holes open. These casks are to be sedulously watched, till the cyder drops fine, when it is to be immediately racked off from the lees into other vessels. The first racking is a most important operation ; as cyder, which is suffered to become foul again, by missing the first opportunity of racking it when fine, will never become what is called a prime liquor. After the clear part has been racked off, a quantity of lees or dregs remains, which, when filtered through coarse linen bags, yields a bright, strong, but extremely flat liquid : if this be added to the former portion, it will greatly contribute to prevent fermentation, an excess of which will make the cyder thin and acid. To avoid such an accident, the casks should neither be entirely filled, nor stopped down too close; and, if the whole incline to ferment, it ought again to be racked. This latter operation, however, should on no account be repeated, unless from absolute necessity ; as every racking diminishes its strength.
When there are no signs of any farther fermentation, the casks should be filed up with cyder of the best quality, and the bung-hole firmly closed with resin.
This method of making cyder is that chiefly followed in Herefordshire. Considerable quantities of this liquor are also made in Devonshire, where the process varies but little from that pursued in the comity before-mentioned. Several farmers,' however, instead of racking, fine it with isinglass, steeped in white-wine, dissolved over the fire, and then boiled in a quantity of the liquor intended to be fined : in this state, it is added to that in the cask. Others, instead of dissolving the isinglass over the fire, digest it in white wine for the space of four or five weeks, during which time it acquires the consistence of a jelly; a quantity of this being beaten up with some of the liquor, the whole is worked into a froth, and mingled with the rest. As soon as the cyder becomes clear, it is drawn, or bottled off, as occasion may require.
Those who are anxious to prepare good cyder, ought diligently to watch every change of the weather, however slight ; as the least neglect, at such times, is often detrimental to many hogsheads. In summer, the danger is much greater than in winter. There is, however, scarcely any distemper incident to this liquor, which may not, by a timely application, be easily remedied. If it become somewhat tart, about half a peck of good Wheat, boiled and hulled in a manner similar to rice, may be put into each hogshead, which will effectually restore it; and also contribute to preserve it, when drawn out of one cask into another. Such a remedy is doubtless far preferable to that odious custom practised by too many cyder merchants, who put animal substances into their liquors, namely, veal, pork, beef, mutton, and even horse-flesh, for the purpose of fining them. This singular expedient, though sanctioned by the usage of ancestors, we think it our duty to reprobate ; because it is fraught with mis-chievous effects on the constitution of those, who are doomed to drink the cyder thus adulterated. By allowing a small quantity to stand in an open vessel for two or three days in a warm room, the fetid exhalation of the liquor will easily discover its ingredients.
The best cyder is that made from a red-streak apple, grafted upon a gennet-moll stock. These two varieties of the apple-tree agree! well together, and their trunks seldom canker, as others are apt to do, especially when the former is grafted on crab-trees. The fruit of the red-streak obtained from the former combination, is always larger and milder ; and, when ripe, not only most delicious eating, but also affords a mellower liquor than the same fruit produced by the latter mixture.
Many estates, where the soil is not proper for corn, might be greatly improved in value, by cultivating the different sorts of apples that are used in making cyder, which finds at all times a ready market, and requires no fuel in brewing it; besides that the labour occurs only once every year. The greater the quantities of cyder made together, the better it usually succeeds ; but it will be necessary that the vessels in which the liquor is to be kept, be capacious and well seasoned. In this case, it will not only remain sound for a great number of years, but also progressively improve.
An ingenious Treatise on Cyder, in 4to. was published about the year 1754, in which the reader will find several pertinent instructions relative to this subject.
By the 27th Geo. III. c. 13, every hogshead of cyder or perry, made and sold by retail, pays a duty of 14s, 7d. to which are to be added 4s. imposed by the annual, malt-acts, the whole amounting to 18s. and 7d. - For every hogshead, made and sold in quantities of 20 gallons, or upwards, by any dealer or retailer, from fruit of his own growth, 6s. l1d.; and for every hogshead of such last mentioned cyder or perry, received into the possession of any person, to be sold by him, 7s. 8d. are to be paid : the total of these duties, after adding the annual one of 4s., will amount to 18s. 7d. - For every hogshead made in Great Britain, and sent or consigned to any factor or agent, who shall receive it for sale, to be paid by such factor 19s. 2d.; but, if the latter have paid the annual malt-duty of 4s., this sum is to be deducted from the 19s. 2d., no cyder or perry being chargeable with a higher duty than 19s. and 2d. - All these duties are payable to the Excise, and are drawn back on exportation ; 3d. per ton being allowed.
Cyder is a cooling, pleasant, and wholesome liquor during the heat of summer, if it has been prepared without foreign ingredients, and properly fermented. On the contrary, when it is too new, or tart, or has perhaps been kept in leaden vessels; or the apples and pears have, after grinding them, passed through leaden tubes, we can by no means recommend it as a salubrious beverage; because that poisonous metal is easily dissolved by the acid, and thus gradually introduced into the body. However agreeably such cyder, or perry, may stimulate the palate, it cannot fail, sooner or later, to produce painful and dangerous colics, as it not un-frequently generates the most desperate and incurable obstipations, among those who accustom themselves to the free use of these liquors.
CyDERKIN, PuBRE, Or PERKIN, is a liquor made of the murk, ;or lees remaining after the cyder is pressed : these are put into a huge vat, with half the quantity of cold water, which has been previously boiled : if that proportion be exceeded, the cyderkin will be small. The whole is left to digest for 48 hours, when it should be well expressed : the liquor thus obtained is to be immediately barrelled, and closely stopped; it will be fit for use in a few days.
Cyder-Spirit, an ardent liquor, drawn from cyder by distillation, in the same manner as brandy is from wine. The flavour peculiar to this spirit is by no means agreeable ; but it may, with care, be totally divested of it (see Charcoal, vol. i. pp. 492 and 493), and become an excellent substitute for those deleterious preparations, sold under the name of spirituous compounds and cordials. Wholesale-dealers have lately availed themselves of this liquor, and, after imparting to it various flavours, they vend it as a substitute for others, but especially by mixing large quantities of it with foreign brandy, rum, and arrack, without the remotest apprehension of such fraud being detected.
Cyder-Wine is a liquor made by boiling the fresh juice of apples: after being kept three or four years, it is said to acquire the flavour and colour of Rhenish wine. The me-? thod of preparing it consists in evaporating the juice in a brewing-copper, till one half be dissipated ; the remainder is then immediately conveyed to a wooden cooler, whence it is barrelled, with the addition of a due proportion of yeast, and fermented in the usual manner.
This American process has of late years been imitated in the cyder-countries, and particularly in the West of England, where several hundred hogsheads of cyder-wine are annually prepared; and being supposed to contain no particles of copper from the vessels in which it is boiled, the country people consider it as perfectly whole-some, and accordingly drink it without apprehension. In order to ascertain the truth, various experiments were instituted by the late Dr. Fothekgill ; from the result of which he proved, that cyder-wine does contain a minute portion of copper, which, though not very-considerable, is sufficient to caution the public against a liquor, that "comes in so very questionable a shape."
Independently, however, of the danger arising from any metallic impregnation, we doubt whether the process of preparing boiled wines be useful, or reconcileable to economy. The evaporation of the apple-juice, by long boiling, not only occasions an unnecessary consumption of fuel, but also volatilizes the most essential particles, without which the liquor can-not undergo a complete fermentation, so that there can be no per-fect wine. Hence this liquor is, like all other boiled wines, crude, heavy, and flat: it generally causes indigestion, flatulency, and diarrhoea. Those amateurs, however, who are determined to prepare it, ought at least to banish all brass and copper vessels, from this as well as from every other culinary process.