Book Review – Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider

March 5, 2010

Literary writer Annie Proulx teamed up with Lew Nichols to write Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider in 1980, and they released their 3rd Edition in 2003. The first half of the book is devoted to cider making, but expands on some topics, including:

  • Suggestions on what to do with the crushed and pressed apples, called pomace. They suggest livestock feed, spreading it on a field to create some seedling stock, weed killer, or compost.
  • Discussion on the different kinds of presses, barrels, a way to filter cider, how to install champagne corks, pictures of riddling and preparations for degorging
  • They show a suggested cider log.

The second half of this book has topics barely touched by Craft Cider Making by Andrew Lea and not at all in Real Cidermaking On a Small Scale by Michael Pooley and John Lomax. This includes:

  • A chapter on apples for cider – what makes a good cider apple? What breeds of cider apples grow where? It also includes several pages on attributes of North American cider apples.
  • An intense chapter on having a home cider orchard, including how root stock affects tree size, how much room each rootstock and tree need, and how much fruit each tree size will produce and how much cider that might yield. They talk about climate zones, the orchard site, soil, planning, caring for the trees, pruning, apple diseases and pests, spraying, and finally harvesting.
  • A large section on making vinegar and hypothetically making apple jack and brandy, including a diagram for a stove top still, along with providing alcohol making laws in the United States.

The appendix is small compared to the other books. They do provide plans for a press, places to get kits, and a few websites.

Andrew Lea does have a few comments on his website about this book, saying, “CIDER – Making, using and enjoying sweet and hard cider” by Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols – ISBN 1-58017-520-1 – Storey Publishing, Massachusetts. This is the third edition published in 2003.  I liked the first edition (1980) rather better – it had more pictures and drawings (and a personal acknowledgement to me and all my Long Ashton colleagues, which got dropped due to a typo in the second edition and was not restored in the third!) But the third edition does contain plans for a press similar to the one I made for myself.”

I should note that Proulx wrote the first edition of this book with Lew Nichols in 1980, which was her first book. Since then, she has written several novels, including the short story “Brokeback Mountain”, which was adapted into an award-winning motion picture.  I bring this up because sometimes this book gets a little poetic in the word choices. For instance, being able to tell if a cider is naturally carbonated, it reads, “Naturally effervescent ciders will produce a vigorous explosion of froth as the liquid first hits the bottom of the glass, then slows, with the smaller bubbles merging to form larger silver spheres that break free from the bottom and sides to rush to the surface, where they pop… Artificially carbonated ciders have uniform-sized bubbles that maintain their size as they rise to the surface…” The first sentence was an over the top description, while the second one was hum drum and normal.



One Response to “Book Review – Cider: Making, Using and Enjoying Sweet and Hard Cider”

  1. Eric Chittenden Says:

    I believe the genesis of Annie & Lew’s 1st “cider” book was at our “Last Blast” Cold Hollow Cider Mill 3-day party in Bakersfield, Vermont – summer 1975. Sure would like to hear from both of them! My e-mail is:; cell is: 802-598-0388. I have news of interest for them —

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