Edit ModuleShow Tags

Really Cold Winters Revealed to be Good For Something



Published:

Did you know that your very own Minnesota backyard is perfect for traditional applejack making? I had no idea either—until I got to page 121 of Cider, Hard and Sweet the new book on all things cider-related by Ben Watson (Countryman Press, $24.95). Fascinating. All you do is, you just fill a barrel up with hard cider (the beer-like one, not the Calvados-like one) and, well, I’ll let Watson explain it:

“Making applejack involves setting a barrel of hard cider outdoors in the dead of winter. There, in the frigid temperatures (the colder the better), the 75 to 90 percent of the cider that is water begins to freeze. During the day the warmer temperatures allow the alcohol to drain out of the ice, which then refreezes at night, causing greater and greater separation between the increasingly pure water ice and the increasingly concentrated liquor at the ‘heart’ or core of the barrel…Real honest-to-goodness applejack can’t be made in areas where nighttime temperatures in midwinter don’t reliably dip below zero degrees. Really cold temperatures, around -30 degrees, will produce a very strong applejack of 65 proof, whereas relatively warm winter lows, around 5F, will yield a liquor that measures only 20 proof, or 10 percent alcohol. In other words, a difference in climate can mean the difference between an applejack that approaches brandy…and one that merely achieves the potency of apple wine.”

That’s right: The difference between living in International Falls, Minnesota and St. Louis, Missouri is the difference between getting good and drunk or merely tipsy!

I was about to run out and spend a thousand dollars on hard cider in order to get a liter of applejack when I got to page 123, where I learned applejack made this way makes a liquor “affectionately known” as “essence of lockjaw.” (What do they call it when one is not being affectionate?) Evidently, this essence of lockjaw gave its users “epic hangovers” and, for big ice-made applejack drinkers, something called “apple palsy,” because making liquor in your backyard in a barrel creates booze full of impurities like methanol and fusel oil.

So much for the backyard applejack bar I had planned.

Still, if you want to make cider, and perry, I know of no better book than this one. It’s mostly about how to make beer-like hard cider, a worthy pursuit. I’ve been waiting for a local artisinal bottled or kegged cider in Minnesota all my life, and now that I’ve seen a book on how it might be done, I’m more impatient than ever. So, go, read, and get brewing!

Cider, Hard and Sweet
By Ben Watson
Countryman Press, $24.95
www.countrymanpress.com
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

3 Drinks to Give Winter the Kiss-Off

West Seventh in St. Paul is bursting with drink options to usher in spring (which is just around the corner, right?)

Minnesota-Grown Greens Now Available Year Round

New locally and sustainably produced Revol Greens makes eating clean and green throughout the year even easier

What to Buy for the Perfect Minnesota Home Bar

From vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and beyond: Minnesota spirit-makers recommend the best home-bar companions

Quick Moroccan Chicken over Couscous Recipe

Enjoy the exotic flavors of a long-simmered tagine in this easy version that’s quick enough for a weeknight

No-Fail Caramel Corn Recipe

Celebrate National Caramel Corn Day with this sweet crunchy treat—no special equipment needed with this easy recipe

Best Restaurant Bargains Before A Target Field Minnesota Twins Game

They're offering baseball specials, but do you know where to go? Check out these good deals on food before Twins games.

3 Things to Eat This Week: April 4-8

Tropical cake, drinkable flowers, and some mouth-searing spice

Edina Bistro Celebrates National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

Pinstripes offers a sophisticated twist on the childhood favorite with a five-course meal for two in honor of PB&J Day (April 2)

Croque Madame Recipe

Add a French accent to your brunch for a satisfying midday meal—plus more ideas to make the most of leftover holiday ham
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags