Hard Cider has quite the colorful history here in America; in fact, during Colonial times in the Eastern States, Cider was more popular than beer, wine or whiskey. It was far more difficult to grow grains for beer than it was to grow apples so seeds were brought over from England, orchards were established and cider-making was as popular here as it was in England. By the mid-1800s, the New England states were producing nearly 300,000 gallons of cider every year.

What I didn’t know was that as settlers moved west, John Chapman, aka ‘Johnny Appleseed’, traveled ahead grafting small nurseries of apples in the Great Lakes and the Ohio River region; these weren’t sweet, eating apples, but rather apples specifically used for cider and by the end of the nineteenth century, most homesteads were making their own because it was safer to drink than water. Orchards were burned to the ground during Prohibition and by the time Prohibition ended, German settlers were establishing large breweries for making their beloved beer. Thanks to the popularity of microbreweries, cider is experiencing huge growth here in the US with cider production increasing nearly 264 percent between 2005 and 2012.

When we moved into our house 12 years ago, we were fortunate enough to inherit mature fruit trees: three apple trees and one pear tree that reside in a sunny patch of our yard. I’m not really sure how old the trees are but they’re prolific producers of sweet apples and pears. It’s impossible to consume all the fruit each season before the bees and raccoons claim them; we’ve made pies, pear caramel sauce, jams and jellies – and last year, we had our first attempt at making pear cider.


When I learned I needed to eat gluten-free, traditional wheat-based beer wasn’t an option – but apple and pear ciders are a wonderful alternative and ciders also happen to be one of my favorite fermented beverages to sip.

In our research, there are many different methods and opinions when it comes to home brewing. This was our first experience in home-brewing and while ‘true’ cider apples are called ‘bittersweets’ or ‘bittersharps’, our trees produce Golden Delicious and Forelle fruit which typically aren’t used for making ciders. We were still pleased with our results and we’ll be making more.

You’ll need a few basic pieces of home-brewing inexpensive equipment – and it’s fun! Pear cider is also great to serve at holiday get-togethers and makes very nice DIY gifts!


  1. SO COOL! It’s funny, I just went to a winemaking demo yesterday and this morning I sit down at my computer and see your post. I think the universe is telling me something 🙂

    • You should definitely try to make cider at home Autumn – it’s really easy, not terribly expensive and loads of fun!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *