Le mondial des cidres de glace. Rougemont, Québec.
Ice cider mondial. Rougemont, Québec.
Winter might be a hard season. Cold weather, snow, storms. We unfortunately don’t have a lot of hop fields in Quebec, but a lot of people are working on it. Actually, we have lots of orchards and apple cider is something flavorful that can be readily produced. About 20 years ago, some orchard owner had a brilliant idea: using this freezing period to create a new product, ice cider. It is quite simple: freezing temperatures will concentrate sugars in the fruits (the scientific term would be cryo-concentration or cryo-extraction). Frozen apples are then pressed and fermented like any other cider. The result is a liquor-like cider, usually with a high content of alcohol. Ice cider is an amazing but also expensive product. To produce a bottle of 375 ml, 5 kilograms of apples will be necessary.
The traditional method to produce an ice cider is to harvest apples in winter time. There are a lot of losses and it is hard to find courageous people to harvest frozen fruits. Less than 5 % of the production is made like this. Those bottles crafted from this method are extremely expensive and are named “special reserve”. If you have to opportunity, try one.
Most of the ice cider production is realized with apples harvested late in fall and kept in freezers. Those apples are pressed and fermented when needed. This method is economical for the producers and gives higher yields per harvest.
Rougemont held his second edition of Le mondial des cidres de glace. Over 5000 people attend it last year and I really think that this wonderful winter weekend contributed to increase the popularity of this unique outdoor event. -12ºC is not so cold under a huge and crowded tent.
Over 20 ice cider producers from the Montérégie area presented their products (from two to four by booth). As you can see in the pictures, the booths were made with ice blocks. This helps to ensure that the product is at an adequate temperature. We also unveiled a gastronomic discovery. Did you ever try a tasting of ice cider taffy on snow? It is just simply awesome.