Apple cultivar evaluations for cider making in Vermont, USA

T.L. Bradshaw, S.L. Kingsley-Richards, J. Foster
Fermented cider production has increased rapidly in the US in the past five years, which has necessitated an evaluation of apple cultivars used for cider making. Cider apples may be simply defined as any apple that is used in cider production, but the real answer is more complicated. The selection of apple cultivar is possibly of greatest concern to cider makers for overall product quality. However, unlike in the case of grapes and wine, specific cultivars are rarely sought by the end consumer as a primary means of identifying ciders. Ciders are typically made from multiple apple cultivars, including dessert fruit as well as specialty cultivars with unique acidity characteristics and phenolic compounds that contribute complexity to the finished product. In traditional cider-producing regions in the UK and France, for example, specialty cultivars make up the majority of ciders produced, and are grown in separate production systems tailored to their unique horticultural characteristics which rely heavily on mechanization to make up for low fruit price. In contrast, the supply of specialty cider apples is low in the US, and domestic cider production relies primarily on dessert fruit cultivars culled from fresh market channels or from processing orchards. Dessert cultivars commonly-grown in Vermont generally exhibit lower levels of phenolic compounds and higher levels of malic acid than specialty cultivars. However, there is limited research on horticultural and disease susceptibility characteristics of specialty cider fruit in Vermont or surrounding regions which limits present recommendations to stakeholders for best cultivars and production systems suited to cider apple production.
Bradshaw, T.L., Kingsley-Richards, S.L. and Foster, J. (2018). Apple cultivar evaluations for cider making in Vermont, USA. Acta Hortic. 1205, 453-460
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1205.55
Malus × domestica, cultivar adoption, juice quality, cider evaluation

Acta Horticulturae