If I was thrown £10 for every person who mentioned either cider or The Wurzels when I declare I was born and live in Somerset, well lets just say I would be a very wealthy bumpkin!
– Neil White, GrowEatGather’s Photographer
It was first thought that the Normans brought cider to the UK, with Northern France being renowned for its grape and apple harvests from its rich vineyards and orchards. However, recent research suggests that cider was being produced from cultivated crops originally by the Romans, well before the Normans landed on our shores.
Cider ‘The Drink of The People’ became widely produced by 1300, with reference of production in many counties in the UK. Through the 1800’s many farmers brewed cider from their own orchards using various varieties of apples. It is also recorded that a flagon of cider often contributed toward a farm labourer’s wage, but this was put a stop to in the 1900’s by law.
With the growth of our food and drink culture, there are now many artisan cider producers across the UK, a world away from the dark age of ‘white cider’ which clouded the 1990’s. Producers like The Orchard Pig, Ham Hill Cider, Ashridge Cider to name but a few, are producing wonderful bottled ciders alongside many farms selling their own unique blend. Roger Wilkins Cider Farm in Wedmore, Somerset is a must visit if you are in the area wanting to sample the full charm of farmhouse cider. Jamie Oliver, to name a famous face, has sampled Roger’s prize winning cider..but don’t expect to buy a bottle, you leave with either 5, 10 or 20 litres!
A FEW CIDER SOAKED FACTS
- In the 14th Century children were baptised in cider, it was cleaner than the water!
- Captain Cook carried cider on his ships to treat his crew for scurvy.
- At one time, 365 different varieties of cider apples were grown.
- Around 13% of UK adults drink cider at least once a month while 49% drink wine and 51% drink beer.
- In the 19th Century cider was advertised as a cure for the gout and other illnesses.