appleThe History Roomapple

The idea of this section is to put here a number of historical reprints about cidermaking in past times.  There's some very interesting stuff dating from the first half of the last century, when the scientific understanding of cidermaking was just beginning.  Professor Barker, writing in the 1950's after half a century of cider research at Long Ashton, regarded the best of those ciders from the 1900's as the finest he'd ever tasted  (while the worst probably defied polite description)!

It's interesting that the cidermaking discussions in these articles all make the assumption that bottled cider would be slightly sweet and naturally-conditioned in the bottle.  This practice died out commercially in the 1950's to be replaced by artificial carbonation and pasteurisation... some of us are still doing it, though, and we believe it makes the finest cider!!

The other interesting thing is that cider in those days was a totally seasonal activity.  It took one whole year for the cycle to repeat itself and nobody thought of trying to make cider at times of year when the apples weren't available.  Nowadays, most commercial cider is made throughout the year on a short fermenting and maturing cycle from juice and concentrate.  Many amateurs, especially if they have a brewing background, also try to do the same...!  But the true craft cidermaker, like the winemaker, works with the seasons and not against them!

I haven't had time to add much to this section yet, and so far there isn't a lot here.  As time goes on, I'll try to scan in more.....

Other Historical Downloads

The scanning and digitisation of various historical texts into the public domain has now reached as far as cider.  Here are some links to seminal texts in cidermaking and orcharding which can now be downloaded for free. The files are mostly pretty big, but well worth a read if you have a broadband connection.

De vino et pomaceo (1588) by Julien Le Paulmier. This is the very first printed cider manual known, written by a Norman French doctor and horticulturalist but in Latin as was usual for technical books of those days.  It was published in French in the following year. This is the original Latin text.

 Sylva; or, A discourse of forest-trees, and the propagation of timber in His Majesties dominions. As it was deliver'd in the Royal Society, the XVth of October, CI)I)CLXII ... To which is annexed, Pomona; or, An appendix concerning fruit-trees in relation to cider, the making and several ways of ordering it.  This is John Evelyn's Pomona of 1664, one of the first English cider essays and being  noteable for its contributions from many other authors (noteably Dr Beale of Yeovil) as well as Evelyn himself.  This a  'must read' for anyone interested in cider history, especially the early development of bottled cider. [One in the eye for the 'only real cider is cloudy in a cask' brigade!].  There's a good deal of 'Sylva' to skip first, though (interesting though that is too).

A treatise on cyder-making, founded on long practice and experience, with a catalogue of cyder-apples of character, in Herefordshire and Devonshire. To which is prefixed a dissertation on cyder and cyder fruit by  Hugh Stafford Esq of Pynes in Devonshire (1753).  This work appears to be anonymous since, although it is usually referred to as 'Stafford', it appears he wrote only the introductory section. It is a good practical cidermaking manual, which was poached and plagiarised into several later forms such as domestic encyclopedias. There is even a contemporaneous (1772) German translation, also available online. The book is also available in a modern facsimile.

A Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear and on the Manufacture of Cider and Perry by Thomas Andrew Knight. Second Edition 1801. Knight was a Herefordshire landowner and a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society. Although some of his ideas e.g. on the natural longevity of fruit trees are now known to be wrong , his contribution to the the 19th century scientific study of cidermaking and growing cannot be overestimated.

A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Worcester by William Pitt 1810  to which is added as an Appendix "A treatise on the cultivation of apple trees, and the preparation of cider : being a theoretical and practical work for the use of the inhabitants of the Island of Jersey / translated from the French of the late Rev. Francis Le Couteur, A.M." These are two classic early 19th century works, well worth a read for their detailed cider making descriptions.

A view of the cultivation of fruit trees, and the management of orchards and cider; with accurate descriptions of the most estimable varieties of native and foreign apples, pears, peaches, plums, and cherries, cultivated in the middle states of America: illustrated by cuts of two hundred kinds of fruits of the natural size .. (1817)  by William Coxe.  The first American fruit book, and an absolute classic.  Interestingly, it contains quite a lot of cidermaking information too, much of it drawn from the work of the Herfordshire cider pioneer Thomas Andrew Knight, with whom Coxe corresponded.  Coxe himself was a New Jersey cidermaker.

The American orchardist; or, A practical treatise on the culture and management of apple and other fruit trees, with observations on the diseases to which they are liable, and their remedies. To which is added the most approved method of manufacturing and preserving cider. Comp. from the latest and most approved authorities, and adapted to the use of American farmers (1822)  by  James Thacher.  Following close on the heels of William Coxe, the second American fruit book!  Another great read with plenty of practical cidermaking information too.

The Manufacture of Cider and Perry, reduced to Rules by John Ham (1828).  This is a somewhat superficial manual published in Sherborne, Dorset, showing that the West Midlands Counties did not have the field all to themselves at that time, although Ham leans heavily on their practice.

Manuel théorique et pratique du fabricant de cidre et de poiré  by L-F Dubief (1834). By comparison with Ham (above), this is a very detailed and much more professional volume which covers both cider fruit and cider manufacture. It was published as part of Roret's Encyclopedia and remained in print for many years till the end of the 19th century.

The Apple and Pear as Vintage Fruits (1886) by Robert Hogg and Henry Bull. This book followed their earlier "Herefordshire Pomona" and goes into
far more detail on specific cider fruit varieties, their cultivation and the practice of cider making. Bull sadly died before it was published, and it was completed by Hogg. This book is part of the late 19th century cider revival set in train by authors such as these who were saddened by the poor state of English cidermaking and relevant knowledge at the time.

Report on the results of investigations into cidermaking, carried out on behalf of the Bath and West and Southern Counties Society in the years 1893-1902 (1903) by FJ Llloyd.  This is the classic series of experiments (the 'Butleigh trials' ) sponsored by the Bath and West Society and Neville Grenville, which led to the foundation of the Long Ashton Research Station. There is still plenty of value in this 145 page report to interest the serious craft cidermaker today, and a number of pertinent remarks about the state of the market which are no less true than when they were written! .

A study of cider making in France, Germany, and England with comments and comparisons on American work (1903) by WB Alwood. This classic 114 page book was written by Alwood to a commission from the US Department of Agriculture. It contains detailed descriptions, details, drawings and photographs of turn-of-the-century cidermaking in four countries. It has to be said that British practice does not come out very well, with the exception of Bulmers and the Butleigh experiments described above (the precursor to Long Ashton Research Station)!

Back to my contents page

This page last updated 9th November 2008