Evaluating Apple Varieties for Hard Cider Production
CSANR Project 096
This project addresses the BIOAg priority of innovation and diversification by supporting the formation of a hard cider industry in the Pacific Northwest. The project includes a comparison of juice of more than 50 hard cider apple varieties grown in the region, a comparison of select varieties grown in five regional orchards to better understand if there is regional variation in juice quality, an evaluation of four ciders made from varieties selected based on juice characteristics, and the formation of a cider sensory evaluation panel comprised of regional cider experts. The project goal is to increase knowledge about characteristics of cider apple juice and hard cider, to support the production and quality of hard cider, a high value apple product that can be processed and marketed year-round. Hard cider production can improve the economic sustainability of growers’ orchards and provide local employment opportunities beyond the harvest season, promoting greater sustainability in the rural community as a whole. Washington State is poised to become the leader in hard cider research and production in the U.S., and WSU Mount Vernon NWREC has one of the most active hard cider programs in the country. Hard cider is well suited to small-scale artisanal producers in western Washington who rely on local markets, as well as large-scale wholesale producers in eastern Washington who rely on mass production and export. Additionally, hard cider apple production is well suited to western Washington where environment-induced disease such as scab otherwise limits apple production. This project will provide a foundation for an expanding Washington hard cider industry.