5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cider Apples

It’s our favorite time of the year at Jack’s Hard Cider: apple-growing season! We’ve been growing apples for over 50 years in Biglerville, Pennsylvania—one of the most prosperous apple-growing regions in the world. What kinds of apples do we grow, and how do we decide which ones make it into our hand-crafted hard apple cider? Read on to discover some interesting facts about our favorite fruit.

1. Cider apples are part of history.

Johnny Appleseed—Father of the Cider Apple

Historically, the principal purpose of apples was to produce cider. According to Smithsonian.com, Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman did not bring the sweet apples that we eat today to the new frontier. The apples he planted “weren’t primarily used for eating—they were used to make America’s beverage-of-choice at the time, hard apple cider.” You won’t find most varieties of cider apples available for purchase at your local supermarket.

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2. Apples fueled variety.

Different Apples, Different Purposes

Grown for very specific functions, apples have been cultivated for a variety of purposes, including cooking, baking, cider making, juicing and eating raw. Apples were “one of the first crops introduced to American shores by colonists from England and western Europe” (Ben Watson, Cider Hard and Sweet), and by the end of the nineteenth century, over 1000 different distinctly American apple cultivars were being grown.

3. Culinary apples can make cider too.

What Kinds of Apples Are in Jack’s Hard Cider?

In our flagship ciders, Original and Helen’s Blend, we use culinary apples such as Rome, Fuji, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. They provide a profile that gives our ciders an easy-to-drink quality that isn’t overly complex, but is crisp, refreshing and delicious.

Our other ciders, like our seasonal Conewago blend, use the best variety of cider apples that we grow on the property. Cider apples are more complex, are heavier with tannins, have more body and produce drier, less sweet cider. Apples used in our blends produce a more tannic, bitter profile and include varieties like Pink Lady and Braeburn. Our ciders pair perfectly with almost any food and come in at a satisfying yet low 100 calories or less and are sessionable, too!

Jon Patrono, president of Jack’s, shares, “Certain apples are obviously perfectly suited for juicing and cider making. At Jack’s, over 20 different cider apple varieties have been planted on the property using a process where we grafted specific cider apples on established trees in the orchard.”

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4. Cider apples are not pretty.

Ugly Fruit, Great Cider Taste

Cider apples are not generally ideal for eating fresh. They tend to be smaller, less attractive and bittersweet. That’s okay—we don’t love our apples for their outward beauty. Rather, we love them for the taste that they lend to our finished products.

5. Our apples are sweet … and bitter!

Natural Sugars Bring Out Our Best Side

It is important that cider apples contain high sugar levels, which aids in the fermentation process and increases the alcohol level. Cider apples tend have higher sugar levels than dessert or cooking apples. The sugar doesn’t make our ciders overly sweet, though. While those sugars add to the flavor, their primary purpose is to help us in the fermentation process.

Learn more about Jack’s Hard Cider and explore our cider lineup here.

Jack’s Hard Cider — Produced from Pennsylvania Apples. Pressed On-Site. Never from Concentrate.

Ronna Dewey