I've caught the cider bug, and I've caught it bad. You too? Then seek out this book without delay. The New Cider Maker's Handbook is like having all your birthdays come at once for hard cider geeks like us. From the choosing the right apples and building your own cider press to measuring cider's alcohol content and adjusting the final sweetness, it's all right here.
• Who wrote it: Claude Jolicoeur
• Who published it: Chelsea Green Publishing
• Highlights: On the surface, making a batch of hard cider is one of the easiest homebrewing projects around: pick up a gallon-jug of cider, add yeast and seal it with an airlock, let it ferment. When I was working on True Brews, I heard many tales of people who actually brewed clandestine batches of cider in their dorm rooms during college! But there's a big difference between this kind of insta-cider and the refined stuff that has made hard cider one of the most beloved beverages throughout history — and contributed to its recent resurgence!
The New Cider Maker's Handbook goes back to the nuts and bolts of cider making. It starts with selecting apple varietals (even delving into developing your own orchard!), moves into apple pressing, and then covers every possible aspect of the fermentation process from start to finish. It's hyper-detailed and takes a textbook-like approach that assumes no prior cider-making knowledge. Charts and graphs and handy diagrams are planted within the chapters for easy reference.
The level of detail might be overwhelming (ok, it will definitely be overwhelming) to folks who just want to try making a batch of cider for fun. But if you are a serious cider maker, professional or otherwise, who wants to step up your cider-making game, I guarantee that this book will become one of your most-used resources. It's been a while since we've gotten an update to the old cider making manuals, and this one definitely satisfies the need.
• Who would enjoy this book? Home cider makers, professional cider makers (or people thinking of becoming pro cider makers!), anyone curious about the nuts and bolts of cider making.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The New Cider Maker's Handbook by Claude Jolicoeur
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(Image credits: Emma Christensen)