CAMRA regards real cider as a product made from a minimum of 90% apple juice. Legally, in the UK, it must be 35%. Pilton Cider, of Somerset, is without doubt the real thing; not a kiwi or passionfruit in sight! Made entirely from apple juice with no added water, sugar, flavourings or additives needed, Pilton Cider produce a naturally sweet and sparkling cider using the traditional method of ‘keeving’.
Unless you’re a cider fanatic, it’s unlikely you’ve heard of the method of keeving, which dates back to the 1600s. It has long been forgotten in commercial cider making. However, the process has been perfected by Martin, of Pilton Cider, who had to travel to Northern France to discover the near-forgotten secrets of the method. It is still a process that is widely used in the production of ‘cidre bouche’ in northern France.
Fully ripe, bittersweet apples are collected from traditional cider orchards in and around the parish of Pilton. They are milled as usual but the pulp is left to stand for 24 hours, allowing pectin gel to form which is then removed. Starved of the essential nutrients, the result is an only partially fermented cider, which retains much of its refreshing apple flavour and soft taste.