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Johnny Appleseed and the American
cider revolution

Kingston Black apples  


The USA is currently gripped in a craze for something approaching ‘real’ cider. There has always been a huge market in the State for ‘sweet’ cider, which is a low quality, low alcohol drink aimed at youngsters. But in the last couple of years a massive demand has grown up for what they call ‘hard’ cider.

The problem American producers have is that the temperance movement ripped out all of their cider apple orchards and ciders have to be made with culinary and dessert varieties. New orchards are being planted but it will be some years before they can meet the demand.

Hard cider and Apple Jack (distilled cider – probably not well enough made to be called cider brandy) were the true staples of the US frontier. In some periods of the settlement of the Midwest settlers were required by law to plant orchards of apples and pears in order to uphold the right to the claimed land.

American folk hero Johnny Appleseed pioneered planting orchards from seed across huge swathes of the US. Of course, trees grown from seed rarely produce sweet apples and Johnny’s orchards were intended for producing alcohol and not dessert fruit as most Americans believe!


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