Ice, Ice Baby! Norfolk Craft Cider Movement
We’ve just come out of October, our national apple month, so it seemed highly appropriate to take a look at the craft cider movement, which is growing at a pace. Indeed, East Anglia isn’t shy of its own makers producing interesting and unusual styles of cider – and one of these innovative makers is the Harleston Cider Company (HCC).
This family outfit is making a range of ciders using the natural sugars and yeast in the apples with very little else added. The apples are typically sourced from gardens and commercial orchards within 10 -15 miles of the cider-house in Palgrave, just south of Diss. The hot weather over the summer has meant a bumper crop for certain varieties and already the team have inklings that this year’s batch will be particularly flavorsome!
The company started making cider in 2010 and it has most recently produced a dessert cider called Ice Cider. This isn’t your typical ‘by the pint’ cider, Ice Cider is a very different product. The idea originates from Canada where apples are collected, stored in a barn and left to freeze in the Canadian winter before being crushed. It never gets cold enough to do that in East Anglia, so HCC collects local sweet dessert apples, which they crush in the normal way to extract the juice, and then they freeze the juice into a solid block. As the ice thaws the juice separates - with the rich syrups and sugars, having a higher density, melting off first. HCC collects these highly flavoured concentrates, adds champagne yeast then slowly ferments the juice to produce a luxury liquor which is rich and syrupy and bursting with aromas of baked apple, honey, peach and apricot. They advise that it’s perfect chilled and sipped along a cheese board of strong farmhouse cheeses. We have that one down to try this Christmas, that’s for sure!
Along with Ice Cider, the company also produce four still ciders, and a spicy Fire Cider vinegar. This winter you’ll find them brewing up mulled cider at many festive fairs and their cidery can be visited for free tours on the last weekend of every month. Be sure to try a sample of the Ice Cider!