How Ascension cider stays delicious for eighteen months.
When we inform our customers that their cider will sit happily in its box in a cool, dry place for up to a year, we sometimes get some strange looks, surely a natural product can’t keep for that long?
Well, it’s all down to the Ascension packaging process.
As we’ve mentioned before, we don’t use any chemicals in any stage of our process. We don’t like them, and they don’t like us. The majority of cider producers will use sulphites in their ciders, which renders the yeast inactive or dormant, but Matt, the head cider maker, has an allergy to these, so they were out. We’ve been told about other chemical based preservatives, but we’ve never really paid attention to them.
Another way is to use artificial sweeteners to get to the sweetness level that we want, but as you know, we’ve always just been about those wonderful apples and showcasing their fruity juicy goodness. Plus, we tend to find that most artificial sweeteners taste just that – artificial!
It’s due to the fact that we use freshly pressed juice to sweeten and flavour our ciders that a stabilisation is so important. The same wild yeasts that naturally ferment the juice into cider are also present when we blend, so eliminating the risk of re-fermentation is top priority. Without this, we’d see cans and bottles explode and bag in boxes inflating! There are also airborne bacteria, called acetobacter, that can turn our delicious ciders into vinegar. Obviously, we don’t want this to happen, apart from in our designated vinegar tanks!
So, what do we do? We pasteurise
Pasteurisation is the process of heating the cider to a certain temperature where all the bacteria within it are killed off. Having the cider heated also means that when we package, the heat within the cider sterilises the packaging that we are filling, which eliminates any contamination without the need of a chemical sterilant in this part of the process.
The reason for the long life also stems from this process, as all harmful bacteria is killed off during the heating process, in both the cider and any potentially within the packaging. This means that the cider is now, effectively, sterile in its sterile home. The bags in the bag in box, the cans, and the bottles that we use are chosen for minimal permeability, meaning that any outside interference will be kept to an absolute minimum.
If you’re enjoying Ascension at home, the best place for any of our ciders is a cool, dark place. For the bag in box, a cool cupboard works great, and for the bottles and cans, a fridge is the ideal location, but they can also happily be stored away in a cool cupboard too.
If you would like to taste, try or buy Ascension Cider, drop us a line.