Written by Helen Anne Smith
Well here it is: 2022.
It’s cold. There’s still a pandemic going on. The world wants you to go on a post-Christmas diet. Or maybe be Vegan. And sober. All admirable choices, but choices nonetheless.
I think that you should be pleased with yourself if you manage to drag yourself out of your warm bed and to your cold desk. Maybe you didn’t miss your bus this morning. Maybe it didn’t rain! Maybe you managed to do a little self care.
I personally didn’t partake in dry January, or Veganuary. In my almost twenty eight years on this earth, I’ve found that restricting myself will inevitably lead to excess. My goal for this year is to be more centered, have less but let it be focussed. Not, for example, to drink five bottles of amazing beer but only remember what the first two tasted like.
So if you asked me to pick one thing to have right now, I would say a bottle of ice cider and a small cheese board.
Ice cider is 37.5cl of pure joy. It’s sharp, sweet, viscous, and complex. Making it the perfect pairing for cheese. But what is ice cider? Ice cider is an alcoholic drink made from the juices of fermented apples, which concentrates the juices sugars giving you a sweeter, more viscous product similar to ice wine. Often the colour of liquid gold or dripping rubies. Ice cider is decadent, it’s luxurious, it’s the Mariah Carey of beverages.
Now for the science, there are two different methods for the production of ice cider:
Ice cider has historically been produced in areas where the temperatures get so low that entire apples freeze, such as Quebec, Vermont and Sweden. Similarly to waiting for perry pears to be ripe, waiting for the weather relies on the maker to be ready to go picking at any time. The frozen apples get pressed, and the liquid that comes from them is fermented for around 9 months. The extraction rates are lower with frozen apples, meaning that the maker will need way more apples than usual to make one bottle of ice cider than they would to make just dry cider.
These days only 5% of cider is made by cryoextraction, which is a bummer because as someone who doesn’t have to do all the work, I think it’s incredibly romantic that there are still people who move to the ebb and flow of nature, but I can see that waiting for the right weather for your apples to freeze could be a logistical nightmare when trying to run a business. Therefore most ice cider makers will harvest the fruit in the Autumn, just like for dry cider, except they will be kept fresh and not pressed until Winter rolls around. Once pressed the juice will be placed into containers and either left outside until frozen, or placed into a freezing environment.
Every bottle of ice cider I have had has been different, and exciting. The bold flavours and warming sensation from the alcohol bouncing all around my palate, soothing my soul. My recommendations would be to keep an eye out for ice ciders from Brännland, Eves Cidery, Pilton or Once Upon A Tree. When it comes to cheese ice cider really does go with everything, the sharp and sweet cider cuts through the fatty salty cheese perfectly, but if I’m going to become more centered in 2022 then I would recommend a three cheese board.
- A blue, something creamy like a Colston Bassett or Stichelton
- A cheddar, something punchy but not too aggressive, like a Montgomery’s Cheddar or Lincolnshire Poacher
- A soft boy, but one that has a little funk to it so it can hold its own against the crashing waves of viscosity, like a Little Rollright or a Tunworth