As it seems some discussion is starting on the topic of the development of new cider apple varieties, I may add a few thoughts.

First it is important to understand how much easier it is to find a valuable cider apple than it is for a superior dessert apple. The reason is that for a dessert apple, you need to have ALL the requirements combined in one single seedling. This means this variety must be good looking and have the right balance of acidity and sugar and have good flavor and have good firmness and crunchiness. All this in the same apple variety, plus naturally good tree vigor, productivity and resistance. This is a lot to have in a single seedling. Imagine how much easier it would be if you could use three or four different seedlings to obtain all of this: one seedling could be ugly but have the right sugar-acidity balance, another one could bring the crunchiness, another one the flavor, and finally one could bring the beauty. Well, this is exactly the situation for cider: since we work with blends, it is not required that a single variety has all the features we want - as long as we can have a number of varieties which, when blended together, will give the correct acidity-tannin-sugar balance with a good flavor. So we need some that will bring more bitterness, others that will have a lot of sugar, others to control the acidity, etc.

As a consequence of the above, there is no point really to ferment and evaluate test batches of single variety cider apples - and this is a mistake very easily done... This is because each variety in a cider batch has a job to do in the blend. By itself a variety could make an unpalatable cider, but if judiciously blended, it may bring a special character in a cider. This is a bit like in cooking: I am sure you wouldn't cook hot peppers just by themself and expect an enjoyable meal... But used judiciously in a recipe, hot peppers can bring something very special and excellent. I have discovered a wild seedling apple that is just like that. I call it Banane amère <>. This apple is so bitter I just can't find the words to describe it. By itself, it is impossible to eat, nor to drink the fresh juice. If one would try to make a single variety cider with it for evaluation, he or she would probably discard it immediately as the cider would be too harsh because of the bitterness. But this apple becomes very valuable when we understand we need only about 5 to 10% in a blend to raise the tannin content, to give a touch of bitterness, a good mouthfeel and persistance. So this is an apple that can do a very specific job in a blend, and as long as it can do that job, its other characters aren't so important.

What I would like to see as objectives to a such a program is a search for varieties that would have the job to complement the apples currently available in North America. We have many good varieties that have plenty of acidity (think Baldwin, Northern Spy, and many others), so there is no need to find new cider varieties that have high acidity, and we should rather seek some that have low acidities to blend with what we have, so the cider makers may have the possibility to better control the acidity balance of their blends. High and very high Brix is also a very desirable trait. The other character that should be seeked is tannin and bitterness. This is cruelly lacking in the apples currently available on this continent. Cider makers need to have a good assortment of native varieties that are rich in tannins in order to improve the quality of the blends.

So, again, best success to this program, and hopefully it will give access to an assortment of new varieties that will permit cider makers to use genuine North American varieties to obtain perfect balance in their blends!

Claude Jolicoeur

Auteur, */Du pommier au cidre <>/* Author, /*The New Cider Maker's Handbook <>*/

Le 2016.12.15 20:27, Kevin VerSnyder a écrit :
David, this is great news for the hard cider industry. An american hard cider 
apple possessing tannins and winter hardiness is much needed. Thank you, for 
giving the cider industry some love!

Kevin J. VerSnyder
VerSnyder Orchards
Lake Leelanau, MI

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