Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cider Tasting

As the autumn leaves start their annual descent, the British apple season is upon us. Shelves of amber skinned Cox pippins, caramel brown russets and bright Bramleys fill shops and farmers markets across the country. For anyone with an orchard or even just one solitary tree, finding a use for this influx of flavoursome fruit presents quite a quandary.

Middle Farm in East Sussex provides one tempting solution: cider. Countless varieties of local apples are brought to the farm, passed through a press and distilled to produce gallon upon gallon of this appley brew. Take along your own apples and you will leave with containers full of the stuff.
Endless rows of cider filled barrels line an old farm building which has been lovingly fashioned into a tasting room. Our thimble sized plastic glasses were filled again and again with deceptively potent liquid of up to 8.5% ABV, also available by the pint or barrel.

On tap during out visit was a vat of intense mulled cider. Cigars of cinnamon, a few cloves and chopped winter fruit are gently heated with the cider to produce a fragrant spicy drink with none of the acrid after taste of mulled red wine and hopefully none of the hangover.

The Middle Farm recipe is simple and if anyone’s feeling abstemious it works pretty well with apple juice too. For anyone feeling the opposite adding a glug of brandy doesn't go amiss:

4 pints still cider
3 apples
2 oranges
1 lemon (juice and zest)
2 tsp ground mixed spice
8 whole cloves
2 cinnamon quills
6 tbsp light soft brown sugar

Put all the ingredients into a pan, cover and heat gently for at least 1 hour. Don’t let it boil. That's it, ready to serve.


  1. Used your recipe for hot apple cider and it was yumyumyum. Had it all the time in Whistler and thought it was THE most amazing drink. They served it in sugar coated tall latte glasses and used the cinnamon sticks as straws which i thought was fab. Your recipe is truly scrumptious. I had some star anise in the cupboard so chucked a couple in for a bit more spiciness!

  2. I have been to Middle Farm and tasted many of their different ciders. It is a great place and have to say was amazed by all the various flavours and varieties. Having tasted quite a few of them I can say with confidence this is a place worth visiting.

    I have also had the mulled cider, and I actually prefer it to mulled wine, delicious.

    On top of that Middle Farm has a lovely farm shop supplying lots of different types of food from cheeses to jams and pastries. I love it there.