Winter is upon us and the ideal time for pub landlords and restaurateurs to host an evening matching real cider with food.
Local East Anglian ciders are exceptional in that unlike their West Country counterparts, the majority of cider in East Anglia is made from dessert and cooking apples which is low in tannins and thus particularly suited to food.
Several local cider makers produce real draught ciders that are very good with fish and pork dishes and some provide specialist ciders which are best suited to tangy cheeses or desserts.
Aspall has the most experience in matching cider with food and can advise the most suitable pairing for each of their products. This extends across all foods including Asian, Indian, North African, grilled meats and vegetarian.
Harleston Cider produces a draught cider that goes well with fish and pork and an ice cider that compliments tangy cheese and sweet desserts. Alternatively Whin Hill single variety Major cider is a perfect match for cheese and biscuits or baked Camembert and crusty bread.
Why not try cooking with cider – here’s a sample recipe:
Pork with Cider
Coarsely chop approx. 4 carrots, 3 parsnips, 3 cooking apples, 6 new potatoes, 3 leeks, ¼ cauliflower head; mix together in an oven-roasting dish, adding 75ml cider vinegar and 100ml balsamic vinegar then season with salt and pepper.
Add 2 split bulbs of garlic to the vegetable mix.
Place 1-2kgs boned pork shoulder, seasoned with salt and pepper, on top of vegetable mix and add 500ml draught cider. Cover with foil and put in preheated oven at 160°C for 2hrs.
Uncover, stir the vegetables (add more cider if needed), salt the crackling then cook the whole dish in the oven for a further 45mins at 220°C to produce crispy crackling.
Carve or cut the meat into chunks and serve with a glass of cider
Draught cider can also be made into a warming winter drink. It can be mulled with added spices (e.g. cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg) or served as a hot toddy with cloves, ginger, lemon juice and honey.
Cider in East Anglia
There are 8 listed cider makers in Norfolk and Suffolk each producing their own particularl brand and variety of real cider. The cider may be supplied in bottles else in poly-casks or bag-in-a-box containers. The latter typically has a shelf life of many months as the bags collapse as the cider is drawn off eliminating any air and thus keeping the cider fresh. Similarly unopened bottles are good for up to a year.
In summary Real Cider is:
Natural – often containing 100% apple juice
Unique – each one is different
Stable – can last up to a year in an airtight container
Great with various foods
Why not try a competition matching cider with food against a wine sommelier for the same menu?
Wassail! – olde English for ‘be you healthy’ said when toasting cider.