RECIPE WEDNESDAY: Fermented Cider – recipes for keeping it sweet from the 1890s

Cider was a popular alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples before the 20th century. The juice of any variety of apple can be used to make cider, but cider apples are best. The addition of sugar or extra fruit before a second fermentation increases the alcoholic content of the resulting beverage. In the US, as well as some parts of Canada, “cider” refers to unfiltered apple juice, traditionally made with a distinct sweet-tart taste, and in these regions the fermented beverage is known as “hard cider”. Preserving cider was evidently a problem as these recipes from an 1890 book reveal. I Some of the recipes sound a little strange and one seems dangerous.

Interior of a cider mill (Library of Congress)Interior of a cider mill by Edwin Austin Abbey ca. 1890 (Library of Congress)

To Keep Cider

  • Allow three-fourths of a pound of sugar to the gallon, the whites of six eggs, well beaten, a handful of common salt. Leave it open until fermentation ceases, then bung up. This process a dealer of cider has used for years, and always successfully.
  • Another Recipe – To keep cider sweet allow it to work until it has reached the state most desirable to the taste, and then ad one and a half tumblers of grated horse-radish to each barrel, and shake up well. This arrests further fermentation. After remaining a few weeks, rack off and bug up closely in clean casks.
  • A gentleman of Denver writes he has a sure preservative: Put eight gallons of cider at a time into a clean barrel; take one ounce of powdered charcoal and one ounce of powdered sulphur; mix and put it into some iron vessel that will go down through the bung-hole of the barrel. Now put a piece of red-hot iron into the charcoal and sulphur, and while it is burning, lower it through the bung-hole to within one foot of the cider, and suspend It there by a piece of wire. Bring it up and in twelve hours you can cure another batch. Put the cider in a tight barrel and keep in a cool cellar and it will keep for years.
  • A Holland Recipe – To one quart of new milk, fresh from the cow (not strained), add one-half pound of ground black mustard seed and six eggs. Beat the whole well together and pour into a barrel of cider. It will keep cider sweet for one year or more.

Discover many more household tips and recipes from the past in VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past.  Now in paperback, makes a great gift!

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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