Monday, 3 December 2012

Born with cider running through my veins

Cider cup

I always say that I was born with cider running through my veins! My maternal grandmother's family home was a cottage with its own cider mill set in a vast cider apple orchard that ran down to a stream. Linton in Gloucestershire  is a small fertile area of gentle rolling countryside with its own micro-climate, crisscrossed with tiny roads that connected once major cider producing orchards.
I now live, not far away in Herefordshire home of two of the best known cider producers in the country and an infinitesimal number of craft, cider makers. It is no surprise then, to say that I never tire of drinking cider. I like the rougher dryer more genuine varieties rather than the mass produced ciders sold in many pubs.
Given my love for it I also love to make cups and punches with cider. They are festive, traditional and practical when large numbers of people are involved. They can be mixed in advance and the sparkling elements added when ready to serve. Use chilled ingredients or an ice block rather than adding lots of ice which can make the punch watery.

1 wineglass of brandy (apple brandy if possible)
1 vanilla pod
25 g sugar or more to taste depending on the type of cider uses
1 L best cider
500 - 750 ml soda water
1 thinly sliced lemon and extra lemon juice
1 dessert apple cut into wedges and sprinkled with lemon juice

Put the brandy in a punch bowl or large stainless steel pan. Slit the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add to the brandy. Add 25 g sugar and leave for at least an hour or until required.
When ready to serve top up with the cider and 500 ml soda and stir well. Taste and add extra sugar and soda as required.
Add the fruit, stir again and serve with a ladle.

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