WSU CAHNRS

Washington State University Extension

Western Washington Tree Fruit & Alternative Fruits

Annual Report 2005

Evaluation of Apple Cultivars for Hard Cider Production

G.A. Moulton, J. King, and D. Zimmerman
Methods

Results

Discussion

Appendix

Summary

A small varietytrial of cider apples conducted at Mount Vernon from 1979–1994 provided preliminary observations on the potential of cider apple production. In recent years, with the encouragement of local hard cider makers, WSU’s Northwest Washington Research & Extension Center at Mount Vernon (NWREC) has expanded research on apple varieties specifically chosen for the characteristics needed in producing market quality hard cider.

In 2002 the first cider was pressed at Mount Vernon, under the direction of cider cooperator Drew Zimmerman, including 8 varietal and 4 blended ciders. In November 2003, May 2004, November 2004 and December 2005 a series of Cider School classes, taught by Peter Mitchell, were conducted at NWREC. Mitchell is a professional cider maker and trainer in hard cider production techniques from Worcestershire, England. In his courses the emphasis is on hands-on experience of cider production, laboratory techniques, and post production quality analysis.

Participants from the Pacific Northwest (eastern and western Washington, Oregon, Idaho and B.C., Canada) as well as from states as distant as Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Minnesota and Colorado have attended these courses. In December 2005 a one-day workshop in Cider Sensory Evaluation, also conducted by Peter Mitchell, was held and some 30 participants learned established techniques of objective sensory evaluation to characterize different ciders. This was followed that evening by a five-course Cider Food Pairing dinner in which ciders from area cideries in Washington and Oregon were matched with dishes prepared by the culinary staff of Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon.

In 2005 the fruit harvest and pressing of cider was again supervised by Drew Zimmerman, drawing on the experience of previous seasons to improve techniques of production and handling. Cultivars planted in 2001-02 produced good crops this year, in some cases enough for varietal pressing, and harvest from these trees will increase in 2006. A row of single-tree specimens, including some early American hard cider varieties, was planted in 2003 for evaluation and possible inclusion in future trials. Some first sample fruit may be seen from these trees in 2006. Evaluation of ciders produced in 2003 and 2004 was conducted by participant panels in 2005. Fermentation of ciders from the 2005 crop is in process and samples for evaluation will be set aside for 2006.

Methods

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The cider apple trial plot consists of five single-tree replications of each cultivar to provide for sufficient fruit to make single-varietal cider as well as for blending. All trees are free-standing, with row spacing 18′ between rows, 12′ between trees. Trees planted in 1994 were grafted on MM 106 rootstock, with additions in 1999. Acquisitions in 2001-02 are grafted on MM 106 and M26 rootstock. Specific cultivars being evaluated are listed below (see Appendix, Table 1.) A pretest varietal collection of 40 single trees was planted in 2003 for preliminary evaluation, from which replications can be made and added to the main trial if they show promise. Some new acquisitions were planted out in spring 2005 (see Appendix, Tables 2 and 3.) This past year a collection of perry pears was also added (see Appendix, Table 4).

The acquisitions include cultivars that have been selected for cider production in France and England not yet tested here that may be well adapted to our climate conditions. In addition, specimen trees of old American varieties used for farm cider in the 1800s and earlier are included, to rediscover and evaluate their unique cider heritage in this country.

In 2003–04 new trees planted at close spacing were established for a cultural trial of hedgerow pruning for possible mechanized harvest methods. The cultivars selected were Foxwhelp, Muscadet de Dieppe, Yarlington Mill, Vilberie and Brown Snout. These were grafted on strongly dwarfing rootstocks M27 and M9. Progress of this trial is conditional on the amount of grant funding available.

Data collected includes bloom and harvest dates, productivity (yield), harvest fruit analysis (Brix, titratable acid and tannin), and observations relative to ease of culture such as disease susceptibility, vigor and growth habit.

Results

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In 2005 the mature trees produced a full crop of fruit. Sufficient fruit for single varietal cider was not available from all cultivars of the younger trees but juice pressed from the fruit was included in the production of some blended ciders. Juice from dessert apple cultivars with characteristics suitable to hard cider fermentation was also used in blending of some ciders.

Fruit from the cider test plot was harvested, placed in storage, and then pressed for juice. Detailed notes were kept on the characteristics of the juice, the blends produced, and the fermentation methods used.

Table 1. Ciders pressed at Mount Vernon in 2005(* indicates dessert apple cultivar).

Cultivar(s) press date net fruit

(lbs)

yield

(gal)

lbs/gal
Muscadet de Dieppe Sep 29 199.1 10.0 19.9
Gravenstein* Sep 29 120.2 8.0 15.0
MacIntosh* Sep 29 183.7 13.3 13.8
Chisel Jersey Sep 29 156.9 9.2 17.1
Cap of Liberty Sep 29 200.9 13.5 14.9
Kingston Black Sep 29 179.2 21.0 14.9
1-Kermarrien Oct 18 20.9
2-Finkenwerder Herbstprinz Oct 18 20.4
3-Golden Russet Oct 18 35.5
Combined blend 1,2,3 76.8 4.0 19.2
Brown Snout Oct 18 338.9 21.0 16.1
Harry Masters’ Jersey Oct 18 145.7 10.0 14.6
Dabinett Oct 18 142.3 10.5 13.6
Vilberie Oct 18 220.0 17.0 12.9

Table 2. Juice characteristics for ciders bottled at Mount Vernon in 2005

Cultivar(s)
brix
specific gravity
pH
T. Acid % malic
tannin %
Kingston Black
13.8
1.060
3.4
0.70
0.12
MacIntosh *
11.3
1.051
3.4
0.60
0.05
Muscadet de Dieppe
15.3
1.066
4.0
0.33
0.27
Chisel Jersey
11.3
1.050
3.3
0.76
0.20
Gravenstein*
13.3
1.060
3.5
0.50
0.10
Cap of Liberty
12.2
1.056
3.1
1.14
0.11
Golden Russet
16.0
1.070
3.4
0.64
0.08
Harry Masters’ Jersey
13.6
1.059
4.0
0.28
0.16
Dabinett
13.2
1.056
4.3
0.48
0.14
Vilberie
12.0
1.052
3.9
0.27
0.33
Kermerrien
13.0
1.056
3.8
0.29
0.26
Brown Snout
14.8
1.065
3.8
0.43
0.16
Finkenwerder Herbstprinz
13.0
1.057
3.4
0.59
0.11

Table 3. Ciders bottled at Mount Vernon in 2005

Batch # Cultivar(s) Notes
1 Cap of Liberty
2 Muscadet de Dieppe + Cap of Liberty Proportion 1:1
3 Muscadet de Dieppe + McIntosh Proportion 40:60
4 Brown Snout Added 1.0 g/liter malic
5 Brown Snout + McIntosh Proportion 1:1
6 Harry Masters’ Jersey + McIntosh Proportion 1:1
7 Harry Masters’ Jersey Added 2.0 g/liter malic
8 Kingston Black
9 Brown Snout + Kingston Black Proportion 1:1
10 Brown Snout + Dabinett Proportion 1:1
11 Muscadet de Dieppe + Gravenstein Proportion 40:60
12 Orchard Blend For events
13 Gravenstein
14 Brown Snout + Cap of Liberty Proportion 1:1
15 Kingston Black + Muscadet de Dieppe Proportion 60:40
16 Chisel Jersey
17 Kermerrien + Finkenwerder Herbstprinz + Golden
Russet
Proportion approx. 1:1:2 by fruit weight
18 Dabinett + Cap of Liberty + Kingston Black + McIntosh Extra, in glass gallons
19 Brown Snout Extra, in glass gallons
20 Harry Masters’ Jersey Extra, in glass gallons

Discussion and Recommendations

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Results at this point would suggest several cultivars have shown themselves to be promising in terms of productivity and/or cider making quality. All varieties can be enhanced by careful blending, including blends of cider cultivars with existing dessert cultivars such as Jonagold, McIntosh and others. Russet types such as Golden Russet, Ashmead’s Kernel, Roxbury Russet and Rubinette can contribute unique complex flavors to blended ciders. Certain varieties can also be used in single-varietal ciders without blending. The varieties Vilberie and Dabinett make single-varietal ciders that have strong bitter components, and the resulting ciders are quite bitter and astringent in character. Blending varieties include those which are best used in combination to produce a complex high quality cider. Recommended best uses for different varieties are shown in Table 4, below.

Table 4. Cider categories by variety

Good Stand Alone

Single-Varietal

Single-Varietal Stout Good Varieties for Blending
Brown Snout

Harry Masters’ Jersey

Muscadet de Dieppe

Kingston Black

Yarlington Mill

Michelin

Jonagold (back sweetened)

Vilberie (very bitter)

Dabinett (bitter)

Vilberie (adds stout-type character)

Dabinett

Chisel Jersey

WSU AxP Crab (very good blender)

Michelin

Foxwhelp

Ashmead’s Kernel

McIntosh (adds aroma)

Jonagold

Tsugaru Homei

NY 486

Russets (Golden, Roxbury etc.)

Both blends and single-varietals should be balanced in pH for good quality. Successful production of high quality cider depends a lot on finding a good basic protocol and following good technique, along with individual and innovative variations that greatly enhance the finished product. Participation in a cider making workshop, such as those taught by Peter Mitchell described above, can be of invaluable help in obtaining a basic understanding of production methods and techniques.

Acknowledgements

Support for this project in 2005 was provided by the Washington State Wine
Advisory Board and the Northwest Cider Society in cooperation with the Western
Washington Fruit Research Foundation. The help and participation of our cooperators
and volunteers in harvesting, cider pressing and evaluation of finished ciders
is gratefully acknowledged.

APPENDIX

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Table 1. Cider apple cultivar trial

Bittersweet:

Brown Snout

Chisel Jersey

Dabinette

Harry Masters’ Jersey

Muscadet de Dieppe

Michelin

Vilberie

Yarlington Mill

Bulmer’s Norman

Medaille D’Or

Redstreak

Reine des Hatives

Reine des Pommes

Tremlett’s BitterBittersharp:

Brown’s Apple

Foxwhelp

Kingston Black

Breakwell’s Seedling

Bitter:

Frequin RougeSharp:

Bramley’s Seedling

Tom Putt

Sweet:

Taylor’s

Other:

Golden Russet

Table 2. New acquisitions 2003 (single trees)

Amere de Berthcourt

American Forestier

Blanc Mollet

Brown Thorn

Bouteville

Campfield

Cap O’Liberty

Cimitiere

Coat Jersey

Court Pendu Plat

Court Pendu Rose

Crow Egg

Ellis Bitter

Frequin Audievre

Frequin Tardif

Granniwinkle

Grindstone

Harrison

Harrison SS

Harrison #2

Jouveaux

Lambrook Pippin

Major

Metais

Muscadet de Dieppe

Muscat de Bernay

Nehoe

Peau de Vache

Porter’s Perfection

Red Jersey

Royal Jersey

Roxbury Russet

Smith’s Cider

Soulard Crab

Sweet Alford

Sweet Coppin

Taliaferro (Colaw)

Taylor’s

Whidbey

Zabergau Reinette

Table 3. New acquisitions 2004 (planted spring 2005)

Bedan de Parts

Bramtot

Claygate Pearmain

Doux Normandie

Fillbarrel

Grimes Golden

Maude

Nelson County Crab

Pethyre

Ross Nonpareil

Stembridge Jersey

Stoke Red

Vagner Ascher

Table 4. Perry pears (single trees, planted fall 2004,
source NCGR Corvallis OR)

Barland

Barnet

Blakeney Red

Butt

Gelbmostler

Gin

Huffcap, Hendre

Huffcap, Yellow

Normannischen Ciderbirne

Romania Perry Pear

Schweizer Wasserbirne

Taynton Squash

Thielersbirne

Thorn

Winnals Longdon

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