Links to examples of others on the History of Cider.
Hard Cider's Mysterious Demise George Mason University
List of Alcohol laws of the United States by State
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The Cyder Market hard cider information for cider makers and drinkers about the history of cider making.
A Very Brief History of Cider by Eileen Malone-Brown
Cider drinking has been around a long time; no doubt because the apple is one of the oldest fruits known. Originally thought to be from the Tien Shan Mountain valleys and foothills, apple specimens and seeds have been carried by man and bird and beast for thousands of years, such that apples can no w be found in all temperate climates. The first recorded examples of cider making occurred around the same time. Greek geographer Strabo describes sidra in his journey through Spain’s Asturia region in 60 B.C. Julius Caesar’s Romans observed British Celtic people making an alcoholic beverage from native crabapples in 55 B.C.
As the Romans continued their conquests across Europe, they introduced various new foods across the growing Roman Empire, including Normandy where cidre is still made today, improving on orchard production and quality by employing their noted horticultural skills. After the decline of the Roman Empire, the monks preserved horticultural knowledge and cider-making skill, using cider to pay workers. The Moors, with their impressive botanical gardens, also significantly improved apple varieties and techniques in Spain through the fifteenth century.
Cider History The Cyder Market hard cider information for cider makers and drinkers about the history of cider making.
England is where cider production reached new heights. The climate was ideal for growing apples, especially in the England’s West Country, which became synonymous with orchards and cider-making. Cider affinity peaked in the seventeenth century, sometimes called the Golden Age of Apples, since the rural agrarian economy ensured that most had access to apples. The pilgrims brought their apple propagating skills and specimens when they set out for the New World.
Dr. David Williams from George Mason University relates in a 2010 interview that three days after William Bradford and the pilgrims set out from Plymouth, they encountered a storm that cracked a great beam. But since the pilgrims had brought apple seeds, saplings and the supplies needed to make cider, a great screw in the hold, believed by some to be a part of a cider press, was used to stabilize the beam.
Orchards quickly became a staple on most farms, such that by 1775 one out of every ten farms in New England owned and operated its own cider mill (Watson, 2009). Cider became the preferred American drink, because water supplies were not safe, the New England climate and soil was perfect for orchards and their British heritage predisposed them to this reliable and easily made drink. By 1767, the per capita cider consumption for Massachusetts was 1.14 barrels! Historical records are replete with references about cider and our founding fathers:
So, what happened to America’s favorite drink? There were many nineteenth and early twentieth century events that contributed to cider’s decline. The advent of the American Industrial revolution and a population shift from a r ural economy to an urban environment meant that fewer people had access to apples or the space to produce cider. The 1848 German states revolution resulted in a flood of German immigrants, who brought expert beer and ale making skills and a preference for those low-alcohol drinks. The temperance movement, which began in the early 1800s and reached its peak during prohibition (1920-1933) played an important role. Many orchards were razed during those years and the beer industry lobbied for Federal regulations that favored them and restricted cider sales across state lines. And last, the arrival of soda at the turn of the twentieth century, with its cocaine stimulant found in Coca-Cola was seen as a more healthful alternative to cider, now viewed as a debilitating alcoholic refresher.
Fortunately, we now find ourselves in a cider-revival age! A resurgence of small-scale farms producing artisanal goods like cider, growing ‘locavore’ food preferences, as seen in the Slow Food movement, and the rediscovery of real-cider deliciousness have all contributed an increased interest in cider.The next chapter in cider’s long history has begun. We hope that you will join us in shaping its future.
If you would like to know more about cider and its history, review the links provided here and please read, Cider Hard and Sweet: History, Traditions and Making Your Own (2009) by Ben Watson,Woodstock, Vermont: The Countryman Press, and The History and Virtues of Cyder (1982) by R.K. French, London, Robert Hale Limited. Additionally we will provide links to hard copy/book references that include cider histories at our Find/Buy page for Books/References.