Best cider apple trees for the garden
You can make cider with any apples, but if you appreciate raditional English and French ciders you will need to use the traditional cider apple varieties. These apples are often surprisingly unpalatable to eat raw on account of their tannin content, but it is the tannins which give the finished cider its flavour and "body".
When it comes to making cider you will need a lot of apples. As a rough estimate it takes 2kg - 3kg of apples to produce 1 litre of apple juice. For this reason It is probably best to use trees grafted on the semi-vigorous MM106 rootstock, which should eventually yield between 20kg - 50kg of apples per tree.
1st Cider apple trees - Dabinett
Dabinett is the premier traditional English cider apple variety, and produces a bittersweet juice. No home cider orchard should be without it.
It is one of the few cider apples that can be used on its own, to make a "single varietal" cider - most ciders are blended using different varieties.
Dabinett flowers very late, but is reliably self-fertile so you don't need any other apple trees nearby for pollination - although Dabinett is a good pollinator of other late-flowering apple trees.Buy Dabinett cider apple trees here
2nd Cider apple trees - Kingston Black
Kingston Black is the other essential English cider apple. It produces a bittersharp juice - a useful complement to the bittersweet juice of Dabinett. It's an essential addition to the home cider orchard.
Kingston Black is not as easy to grow as Dabinett, being somewhat more disease-prone. However it rewards the cider maker with a complex juice which can be used in blends or as a single-varietal cider.Buy Kingston Black cider apple trees here
3rd Cider apple trees - Red Foxwhelp
Red Foxwhelp, also known as Herefordshire Redstreak, is an old 17th century English bittersweet cider apple variety which has lots to offer cider makers.
Firstly, the juice is a very attractive dull red colour, which really makes it stand out. Secondly it has the potential for a naturally high alcohol content.Buy Red Foxwhelp cider apple trees here
4th Cider apple trees - Michelin
Normandy and Britanny are the home of cider production in France, and Michelin is a traditional 19th century French cider apple variety producing a bittersweet juice.
Michelin is also widely grown in the UK on account of its reliability and heavy production. It is easy to grow and the apples drop to the ground when ripe.Buy Michelin cider apple trees here
5th Cider apple trees - Brown's Apple
Brown's Apple is a traditional English cider apple variety from Devon, producing a fruity bittersharp juice which is useful in cider blends.
Brown's Apple has a good reputation for disease-resistance - like many apples that originate in the mild damp climate of Devon where fungal infections are common.
It is not the most widely-grown cider apple, but well worth considering for the home cider orchard. Firstly it is a very heavy cropper (and if you are making cider you need lots of apples). Secondly it produces lots of blossom and is a good pollinator for other late-flowering cider apple trees.