Photo by Alex Brown via Flickr
A traditional cider bolée and pichet.

Breton ciders (cidre Breton) are a clear or cloudy beverage made from apples, with a fine foamy head and bubbles in the body of the liquid. Delicious summer and winter, they are traditionally served in a pitcher and poured into a bolée, the perfect partner to a galette Bretonne.

Origins and production

The colour of Breton ciders varies from straw yellow to mahogany brown according to the combination of local varietals and the area. Hence, ciders from Ille-et-Vilaine, traditionally more acidic, are lighter in colour whereas those from the south of Finistère, where bitter apples predominate, are darker. Breton ciders are characterised by rich, full-bodied and rustic flavours, fruity and floral notes, and enriched by maturation giving spicy notes.

Fresh cider apples are washed and milled or grated; pressure is applied to the pulp using mechanical presses and the juice obtained is clarified before fermentation. In the fermentation stage, the yeast residue is removed by racking, centrifuging or filtering.

Clarification after fermentation and blending permits the producer to control and balance the quality of cider before it is bottled or packed. It is permitted to add clean cold water to the pomace resulting from pressing in order to extract the sugar that remains. The amount of water that is added depends on the strength of the fruit, except for pure juice ciders where no additional water is permitted. The juice obtained can be used to prepare concentrated must or can be added to pure juice musts, or processed separately. Musts or ciders may be blended to balance the quality of the finished product. In any case, the total alcohol by volume should be not less than 5 % for cider and 5,5 % for champagne cider without sweetening.

The varietal structure in Breton orchards has been adapted to produce combinations of acidic, bitter and bittersweet varieties favoured by producers which give Breton ciders their characteristic flavours. Accordingly, 50% of varieties planted are bittersweet or bitter and 24% are sharp or sour varieties.

Brittany is one of the two main regions where cider apple trees are grown and cider produced. The French word ‘cidre’ has appeared in tales since the 6th Century. Today this region accounts for 40% of the total national French production. Furthermore, the combination of cider and crêpes is deeply rooted in Breton traditional cuisine.

•With thanks to www.europa.eu.int

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