A host of new cider apples were harvested for the first time today – after 25 YEARS in development.
The 29 varieties are the first new cider apples to be produced in Britain for 15 years.
They were bred in a 25 year project in which boffins tested over a thousand potential specimens.
Experts cross-bred different types to eventually settle on 29 new cider apples which they say yield the sweetness and acidity required for the prefect cider.
Now harvest has begun on the apples – giving cider makers the chance to create brand new brews for the first time in a generation.
The project was managed by the National Association of Cider Makers as part of ongoing research to improve the quality of apples available to cider makers.
A spokesman said companies trialling the new apples in their orchards included giants like Thatchers and Bulmers.
He said: ”This is the result of a long-term project which has seen around a thousand types of apple tested for their suitability.
”It is the first time in a generation that new apples are available for cider makers and very exciting.”
The new varieties of cider apple have been created at different orchards following a selection and propagation process that started in 1984.
They have been selected for their levels of tannin, acidity, astringency and natural sweetness – all the components that combine to produce the flavours and character in cider.
Trial sites for the new apples include an orchard managed by Thatchers Cider near Bristol and Bulmers’ orchard at Staunton (corr) in Herefordshire.
Each of the 29 different apples has been given a name, including the ‘Prince William’ – after the Royal who famously declared himself a cider drinker.
Liz Copas (corr), consultant pomologist (corr) and leading authority on cider apples, has worked on the project and has an apple ‘Lizzy’ named in her honour.
She said: ”Harvest is an important and exciting time but even more so given the time and effort invested to produce new varieties.
”We hope to prove that the new fruit offers growers and cider makers the best combination of juice quality and high yields whilst requiring limited intervention during the growing season.”
Nearly half of all the apples grown in Britain are used to make cider and there are already over 365 existing different cider apple varieties.