What they said about
The New Cider Maker's Handbook
In this page, you will find reviews and comments written by:
See also the following links where you will find articles related to the book:
While I plan to read all of the books in this post, the one I am most looking forward to is Claude Jolicoeur‘s. Claude is a frequent speaker at CiderDays and a regular contributor to the Cider Workshop group, often providing answers on technical issues that few others in the world could discuss with authority. (For an example, see this recent thread on ebulliometers.) But to portray Claude as merely an ivory tower cider theorist would be unfair—he won a Best of Show at GLINTCAP in 2008 and has earned medals in 2007 and 2011-2013 for his ciders and ice ciders.
I envision The New Cider Maker’s Handbook as an ideal reference work for those who have relied upon Andrew Lea‘s Craft Cider Making but crave more information on small-scale cider production from a North American perspective. With the eruption of upstart cider producers across the US, Canada, and even Mexico, this book should help raise the bar on cider quality for thirsty craft cider drinkers. You can learn more about Claude and pre-order the book via his author’s page at Chelsea Green.
Cider Guide Blog
Although this is a book by a Canadian with a North American audience primarily in mind, it'll be valuable to anyone in the cider making world. It's aimed at the hobbyist, but even those working on a larger scale should find plenty of value here. It's up to date and more to the point it's based on Claude's own 25 year practical experience plus input from other small-scale cidermakers and orchardists worldwide. Claude's own 'journey' through the art and science of cidermaking underpins the book, so his enthusiasm for the topic comes through at every turn. It's personal but it's not parochial. And it's a great cultural mix, because Claude has drawn on French and even Spanish sources as well as the more obvious ones written in English.
It's neatly constructed. Part 1 is a simple 25 page step by step guide to making your first cider. If you're a novice, that's where you'd begin and it would get you off to a great start. But the meat of the book, the remaining 300 pages, covers cidermaking topics in much more detail in what might be seen as a series of extended and interconnected essays under the general topics of Orcharding, Juice Extraction, Composition of Apple Juice, Fermentation and Beyond. You wouldn't plan to read them all at once, but you'd probably dip into them over time, topic by topic. It is a handbook, after all!
Some of the essays are fairly standard in what they tell us, but some of them are unique and give us information that simply isn't found elsewhere; for instance, the discussion of North American fruit varieties, the technical details of mill and press design, the 'Honneyman' method for measuring alcohol content, and the manufacture of Ice Cider. Claude has trawled the world literature for actual data relating sugar content in apple juices to SG, and likewise for acidity related to pH. There are also some very handy tables, for example the one which tells you just how much 'stuff' you need to add to achieve 'x ppm' of something! And there are some uniquely Claude ideas, like his definition of Fermentation Speed Unit (FSU), which immediately gives you a framework for understanding how fast or slow things are going. I wonder if that one will catch on?
As many of us know, Claude is an engineer by profession, not frightened by an equation or two or a nicely crafted spreadsheet! There are definitely parts of his book which reflect that (and you can even download some of Claude's spreadsheets to play with!). But then, if you want to do the job properly, these things can be important to understand. Sometimes the coverage particularly reflects Claude's own areas of interest and expertise; for instance there's not much on pasteurising ciders or use of artificial sweeteners or (for UK readers) bag-in-box, but on the other hand there's a good deal about how to make naturally sweet ciders by keeving or slow fermentation and repeated racking, or making sparkling ciders by bottle conditioning. And it's also a book about giving these things the time to happen. Claude is avowedly not a two-week turnaround merchant! As he says himself in the book "our objective is to produce the best possible cider".
Physically, the book is beautifully presented and a delight to read. The production values are excellent, with informative colour plates, boxed information sections and a comprehensive index. In my review for the publishers I described it as 'inspirational'. It's the sort of book that makes you say "I'd like to do that!" and to go out and do it!
Put it on your Christmas list!
Andrew Lea, UK
September 12, 2013, in the Cider Workshop Forum
Claude Jolicoeur's much-anticipated comprehensive guide to cidermaking is now out, so folks who pre-ordered should see it soon. Many of you "know" Claude from his frequent, helpful postings, both here on the Cider Digest and over on the UK-based Cider Workshop.
My earlier review comments on his new book were as follows: "This is the book so many craft cider makers have been waiting for: at once comprehensive, detailed, and authoritative. Planting an orchard? There are guidelines and suggestions. Need a mill or a press? There are plans and instructions. Trying to grasp the process, or to know how to measure? It's there-sugar, acidity, pH, tannin, balance. Troubleshooting a problem? All the common shortcomings are covered. It really is 'orchard to bottle,' with both guidance and technical background all along the way."
It starts off with a chapter to get you going on making cider, possibly even your very first cider. After that there are sections on each major aspect of cidermaking: orchard practice and fruit selection, milling and pressing, understanding and analyzing juice, fermentation including style variations and troubleshooting.
Throughout, there is sound information based on proper research plus Claude's first-hand experience. There are numbers, tables, formulas. If you're a bit shy about the science or math, you can skip over those parts...but if you're curious, you'll find what you want and you can depend on it.
Two particular aspects of the book stand out for me: First, the information is complete -and- correct. Second, the book helps you understand what's going on--you learn not only what works (or doesn't), but -why-. That way, you can learn to reason out new situations, problems, and ideas using that understanding.
In a review over on the Cider Workshop, Andrew said "Put it on your Christmas list!" I wouldn't wait that long.
Dick Dunn, Hygiene, Colorado, USA
September 12, 2013, in the Cider Digest #1809
It came last week. It is fantastic. You must be very proud. Congratulations!!!!
John Howard, Philadelphia, USA
September 21, 2013, private email
Speaking of Claude's book, if you are serious about cider you need a copy. I am reading it now and finding useful information I did not know, in spite of ten years of cider making and book reading and following the digests/groups.
Scott Smith, Maryland, USA
September 25, 2013, in the Cider Workshop Forum
What a beautiful book! I recieved it in the mail yesterday and couldn't resist dipping into the various chapters for a quick preview. And my first impression was all positive. The writing is clear and accessible and has a nice personal tone that adds warmth but without sacrificing precision.
The layout, editing, photos, graphics and production are, in my opinion, outstanding.
The whole thing speaks of an extraordinary effort on your part and that of your publishing team at Chelsea Green. Both you and Ben [editor] must be very pleased. And it must give you considerable pleasure to know that you have written what is now a definitive guide - at least in the English language - for the small scale cider maker. And I'm guessing there's a lot in it for those of us in the commercial world who are just a bit bigger.
Again, my fullest congratulations and I will certainly be recommending it to everyone I know.
John Brett Tideview
Cider, NS, Canada
October 1, 2013, private email
My copy arrived in NZ today via Amazon. What a wonderfully made book. And well presented. It will be read extensively and cherished. Thanks Claude for all the work that went into it.
Trevor FitzJohn, Teepee Ciders, New Zeland
October 7, 2013, in the Cider Workshop Forum
So, you are excited about making cider?
Claude Jolicoeur has brought us, The New Cider Maker's Handbook, a new book that few have seen associated with the craft of cider making; a book that approaches cider making from an engineer's perspective, a book that bridges the ground between the art and the science. He has brought together a book that will take you as deep into the subject as you wish to go. Do you like precise formulas? Do you find yourself wishing you had a go-to chart on the various measurements of sugar content or CO2 considerations? Want to learn the techniques that will help you to take 1st prize at the next cider tasting event?
Whether you are just getting started with your first batch or have been making cider for years. There is something in Claude's new book for everyone. You are guaranteed to come away with actual author tested techniques and key formulas for everything from yeast trials and approaches to sugar & acid testing to great detail on keeving techniques and even how to make a genuine Ice Cider (Cidre de Glace).
I have read numerous good books on cider making and I don't believe I have ever seen a single source that has so many author reflected and shared, real life, accounts of a multitude of processes, approaches and actual records shared for cider making. Claude avoids merely sighting other researchers findings, or mere anecdote, in favor of a consistent style of sharing mainly what he himself has learned in his many years in working on his craft.
This book is geared towards advanced cider making techniques and will be a great benefit to any craft maker who is determined to take his cider to an award winning level.
Please join me in a cider toast to Claude for his passion on this subject, his commitment to excellence and his willingness to share what he has learned.
Paul Weir, Gopher Hill Apples, CA
October 9, 2013, in the Holistic Orchard Network Forum
After I read Paul's review of Claude's new book, I ordered 3 copies, 1 to read, and 2 to give as presents. The book is now my standard night time reading, as it's so interesting it keeps me awake reading it. I've tried to read other cider books, but this one has loads of practical information, and is well written. French terms are thrown in occasionally, which spices things up. Highly recommended.
Terence Welch, Fruitilicious farm, CA
October 22, 2013, in the Holistic Orchard Network Forum
I wish I had had this book years ago when I first looked at all the apples around going to waste and thought about turning them into cider. It seemed a huge effort. There were so many questions. How do I juice the apples? What kind of containers are needed? Is it ok to use apples with scab? With insect damage? The answers are all here in this New Cider Maker's Handbook by Claude Jolicoeur.
Even so, after thirty and more years of trial and error that have given me some of my own opinions on questions like these I still find pleasure here in the confirmation of some opinions, deeper answers to other questions, and information at the technical level that gives a chemical background that I have always felt lacking in my own background knowledge.
In other words, this is a reference for everyone, from the veriest beginners to the most advanced cider maker.
The questions about crushing and pressing the apples are considered from basics to advanced: from the high end purchaser of the newest equipment, but even more considering the needs of someone starting out in a small way and with little to invest but interest and effort. Need a crusher? Do as a friend did and get a garbage disposal unit for five dollars from a demolition site and use the notes in this book to build a functioning unit from scrap lumber that will crush tones of apples for years. A press? No problem. Plans here to build a screw press in an hour or two using stainless screw rods available at the local lumber yard. You are in business in a day or two.
What time it would have saved. Not doing what I did on someone's advice. “Why not phone the experts in the Okanagan?” Armed with a phone number from an under manager at the OK juice plant, the big one, I confidently called the agent who I was assured could help me. “Sure”. The agent said “I'm on my way to Los Angeles airport right now. Off to buy in Switzerland. I can get you anything you want starting at say, fiftly thou” At that time, the phone call was expensive enough that I caught raised eyebrows across the kitchen table. It is a pleasure now to see such sound information available to make the solutions to crushing and pressing seem so simple. And let me reassure you. These are not armchair pipe dreams; these are good plans that have been developed by an engineer who knows what he is doing with suitable materials for different levels of skill and ambition.
Along the way there were questions about the kinds of apples to use. Were there some apples better than others for cider? If I plant some trees, what varieties? Again the writer has an orchard to draw on himself for experience as well as contact with apple growers who produce cider in various parts of North America. The book includes recommendations for the best apples to use in different regions. A section on varietal selection has a detailed description of the qualities of different apples ranging from Douce de Charlevoix which he discovered in an old orchard in Quebec, traditional French specialty apples like Frequin Rouge, and the traditional American apples like Northern Spy. In each case details on sugar levels,acidity and tannins are recorded along with a judgement about the place of the juice from the apple in cider making. Grow your own? No problem. Just get the land and refer to the section on orchard management. I say no problem with regret knowing how difficult it is for someone starting out to even think of having a lot to have a tree or two on these days. However, even on a lot with dwarf trees something can be accomplished. And if you have to buy your apples you will get advice here on the best choices to make in the market.
But the real heart of the book is in the consideration of questions arising around the practices required to turn juice into cider, good cider, made from pure juice with as little addition or alteration as possible. And that is not so easy as it sounds.
Most of us today do not live in a culture where people are used to doing their own fermentation as was done on the farm in the past. We do not have the advice of an older member of the community to rely on. Faced with a container of fresh apple juice, there is so much uncertainty. Should it be treated in some way first? What kind of yeast will I have to get? Should the fermentation be warm or cold?
After years of trying different things I leave an open container in the barn in December, cover it with a cloth after adding a small dose of sulfite, no yeast added, and wait for a fermentation to start. And during the two or more weeks it takes and funny things start growing on the surface I still have lots of questions. Are some of the new yeasts available better than my natural yeasts? Does freezing in a cold spell harm the flavour? Should I do something to get a French style keeve effect? Now I can come into the warm in the house, pick up this book and get extensive explanations of what factors affect fermentation including a detailed description of what to expect during the process. There are different styles of cider I can aim for, from the dry, still cider usual in the west of England to the sweet, bubbly cidre of Normandy. You might like to try ice cider. I don't myself. But the process is in the book.
I went to a winemaking seminar once and the speaker was a specialist in wine faults. We listened to a detailed description of all the fault that she had come across in a professional career collecting bottles flawed wine from Okanagan winemakers. We each sat with a range of twelve covered wineglasses on the table in front of us. Each glass contained a specific fault being described by the speaker.The glasses were numbered. At the end of an hour's description we were given a sheet with a description of 12 faults written out and were expected by sniffing to identify each one. I found the task relatively easy because I had encountered every one of them from Brett to mousiness in my trial and error cider making. So, of course, what would a handbook be without a Troubleshooting section. Now is that wrinkled white skin on that one sealed jug of new cider jug important? It doesn't look right and how should I deal with it? Here we are. Film yeast. Take it off with a paper towel. I guess I need some new carboy stoppers to make sure there is no air in there too. Thank you M Jolicoeur.
There are very few books available on cider making. The internet now is a good source of information but it can be confusing. I read once about someone who heard that natural yeasts are best but that there were spoilage organisms that could take over the fermentation. He decided, logically enough, to kill any spoilage possibilities by boiling the juice, and then to avoid contamination invite nature to take over by setting the boiled juice in an open container in the middle of a field. Don't do that. Get this wonderful book instead and happy cider making will follow.
Derek Bisset, BC, Canada
November 13, 2013, British Columbia Fruit Testing Association (BCFTA) Newsletter
Claude Jolicoeur is considered one of North America's finest home cider makers. In The New Cider Maker's Handbook, Jolicoeur applies his previous life as a scientist to the craft of cider with over 300 pages of traditional techniques and modern practices. The formulas, charts, and experiments in this tome put even the geekiest homebrew book to shame—it's the perfect gift for anyone looking to get serious about home cider making or considering what it would take to go pro.
December 10, 2013, in Gift Guide: For Cider Lovers
Thank you, Claude, for your answer. I bought the digital version of your book right after I read your comment. I have to admit, this is really great book - Also covering many detailed advices for keeving, which I'm recently trying to master. I'm so happy I bought it.
Māris Plūme, Latvia
December 11, 2013, in the Cider Workshop Forum
Dear mr. Jolicoeur, just writing to tell you that The New Cider Maker's Handbook is GREAT. Thank you for your work.
Very practical, excellent (and very useful) illustrations, solid base of engineering culture. Cider is just a hobby for me, but with your help my results improved so much that I've started thinking of selling some.
And special thanks for the Ice Cider chapter. I live in Russia, so freezing technique totally makes sense and gives a really nice result.
Awesome! Regards, Seva.
Seva Nechaev, St-Petersburg, Russia
August 9, 2015, private email
From a discussion in the Cider Workshop Forum, August 31, 2015
I've just finished building a grater mill, following Claude's advice in The New Cider Maker's Handbook, and I hope my experience might be helpful to anyone else contemplating doing the same.
Claude made his rotor from laminated wood, but he makes the point that it involves a lot of work, and he suggests that it might be easier to use HDPE. I did that, and was pleased with the result, but I found that a one third horsepower motor, which would have been sufficient for a wooden rotor, wasn't powerful enough. That's because HDPE is almost twice the specific gravity of seasoned softwood. I ended up buying a 1 hp motor, which does the job nicely.
I would really recommend anyone thinking about making their own mill to follow the recommendations given in Claude's book. YouTube is full of videos of mills that don't quite work properly, largely because the apples aren't drawn between the rotor and the stator, and they bounce around endlessly. Claude's explanation of what he calls the wedge angle is the key to efficient performance, I'm sure.
Hi Steve- Ha ha, we'd have to compare rotor weights! I went the HDPE route with a 1/3 HP motor and didn't have a problem last year, my first with Claude's rig. I didn't drop the apples in until the mill was running full and felt that the mass of the rotor helped to even out the process. That said, while I was able to grind the apples as fast as I could get them in, it is possible to overload the mill.
One time I was nearing the end of a basket and tipped it a bit too much. A bunch of smallish crabs fell in all at once and clogged the throat. When that happened I had to get in there and clean everything out, since even a part of solid apple wedged in the throat was enough to keep the rotor from turning. Learned my lesson and was more careful about the feed rate. That's a situation where a more powerful motor might shine.
And yes, as you said Claude's directions on the throat construction were perfect. The mill just sucks those apples right down with minimal fuss!
I love your book. You did such a great job on it and I love the way you write. It is very clear and inspiring!
Chris Herbst, Arcata, CA
September 23, 2015, private email
Dernière mise à jour : 16.01.24