- The Plate
The Highs and Lows of Hard Apple Cider History
Chances are that our ancestors wouldn’t recognize the cider sold in supermarkets today as anything worthy of the name. The lily-livered sweet cider that we like to sip this crispy time of year (hot, with cinnamon sticks) was considered next to undrinkable by our forebears. The colonial farmhouse cider barrel held fermented cider—the hard stuff—and people guzzled it like modern Americans slurp soda.
Cider wasn’t the only game in town for the 17th-century American drinker, but it was certainly the simplest, the cheapest, the most plentiful, and the most accessible. Runner-up was beer, which was made from everything from pumpkins and persimmons to spruce, sassafras, and green cornstalks. (Barley grew poorly on the eastern seaboard.)
In both cases, colonists drank a