Ice Cider Production - A Review

As a product grows in popularity manufacturers may seek diversification in order to satisfy customer demand and grow their market share. Cider has followed this trend with new manufacturing methods and product styles appearing in the market. Ice cider is a prime example where cidermakers have marketed a novel value-added product. Similar to ice wine, ice cider is a specialty hard cider which is produced from frozen apples resulting in high soluble solids prior to fermentation (Hermann 2014). The production of ice cider was first developed in Quebec and inspired by the success of ice wine production (Kirkey and Braden 2014). In Quebec, ice cider has become a renowned, high quality beverage with recognition in government legislation (Bedriñana et al 2017). It is original locale[1] it is known as a delicacy where it is served as a sweet dessert-type wine.

In the midst of the cider industry’s drastic local growth there has been a relative lack of published scientific literature supporting the industry. Being a more recently developed and localized product within the cider niche, ice cider has seen an exceptional lack of attention from the research community. Currently there exists a small collection of published articles dealing with the detailing the production and quality assurance of ice cider manufacture. In particular, there is little literature detailing the production methodology of ice cider in Ontario. The following section will detail a synopsis of the current literature available on this subject.[2]

Kirkey and Braden (2014) provides an excellent review of ice cider production in Quebec, including its history, the present state of the industry, production methods, and future research and marketing needs. The unpopularity of cider in Canada in the past has largely been due to government legislation which did not officially recognize cider until 1970. In the 1990s?, Quebec cider producers say the potential to develop this industry given the cold winters they experience. [in developed their first ice cider product. It was inspired by the success of the Canadian and German ice wine industries in combination with the cold climate of the Quebec apple growing regions.[3] ]

Quebec Ice cider has gained local and worldwide popularity and the industry is producing approximately 500,000 bottles per year generating $6.7 million in sales. Quebec and some regions of Ontario share a similar climate, and therefore there is potential for establishing an ice cider value-added product in Ontario.

In Quebec, McIntosh, Cortland, Empire and Spartan [4] are commonly used for ice cider (Kirkey and Braden 2014). Other lesser known varieties currently being used for ice cider production in Quebec include Galerina, Diva, and Primvera. Common among these cultivars is their ability to retain fruit on the tree throughout the winter season. In addition to the selection of apple varieties for use in ice cider production, a significant decision for the cider maker is that of the production method. Currently in Quebec, three styles of production dominate – cryoextraction in bins, cryoextraction on the tree, and cryoconcnetration. (Kirkey and Braden 2014). Cryo-concentration is also known as cold-freeze concentration. This method generally is performed outside of the orchard after harvesting the apples at the normal ripening date. This is in stark contrast to the on-the-vine methodology employed in ice wine production, and this difference can be seen as allowing ice cider a much less risky and less climate dependent production. In cryo-concentration the harvested fruit stored until winter temperatures of approximately -15 C develop. At this point the fruit is pressed and the resultant juice is stored in outdoor containers where partial freezing occurs. This process causes the water in the juice to move upwards in the container, leaving the bottom juice with highly concentrated soluble solids content. Once the juice has frozen adequately to supply a juice of desired solids concentration, the bottom 20-25% of the container is drained for use in fermentation. This highly concentrated juice is then fermented at low temperatures for six to eight months and ages until the desired ice cider quality profile has developed.

The next method of Québécois ice cider production are named cryoextraction. This method can be separated into two distinct styles – cryoextraction in bins and cryoextraction on the tree. Cryoextraction in bins involves the harvesting of the fruit at the usual desired ripeness in the fall, followed by a storage process. This process is rather simple; the storage of apples for bin cryoextraction is accomplished by placing the apples in outdoor storage containers under ambient conditions. Not unlike cryoconcentration, the cider maker waits until ambient temperatures of -6 to -12 oC are achieved (Kirkey and Braden 2014). Cryoextraction on the tree differs from this method by not harvesting the apples from the tree until these temperatures have been achieved. This warrants an examination of apple cultivars on a basis of tree fruit retention throughout the fall and winter months.The exact amount of time a cider maker is to leave the apples at this temperature is not yet strictly defined. From this point, the apples are pressed into a juice of extraordinarily high soluble solid concentrations which can then be utilized for fermentation into ice cider. As a side note, it has been stated that bin cryoextraction produces the most complex flavor profile for the finished ice cider product (Kirkey and Braden 2014). It is hypothesized that these novel flavors may be present due to spontaneous fermentation of the stored apples while awaiting the desired cold temperatures.

A major area of concern related to ice cider production is sustaining its high product quality reputation. This has led to research in the development of defining quality assurance standards. Clément et al (2017) compared several methods for measuring quality and verifying adulteration of ice cider . All methods were not entirely accurate at differentiating these products from actual ice cider. However, fluorescence spectrometry was more successful with a reported adulteration identifation success rate of 73%. The researchers suggested that fluorescence spectrometry is the optimal method of identifying quality and possible adulteration of ice cider products and may be further improved through continued development of the technique.[5]

Other recent research on ice cider has focused on fermentation microflora (Bedriñana et al 2017). The ice cider fermentation is both a colder temperature and more lengthy process compared to other fermented beverages. This length has been suggested to be due largely to lack of cold temperature amenability of the usual major fermentation yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Bedriñana et al 2017postulated that utilizing other more cold-tolerant species of yeast within the Saccharomyces genus as the primary fermentation microbe for the ice cider fermentation process. Therefore, the researchers sought to identify cold tolerant autochthonous yeast. This led them to isolate a wide range of different Saccharomyces bayanus strains from their local Asturian cider due to this species renown as a highly cold tolerant Saccaromyces yeast. These yeast strains are native to the Spanish cider apple production environment thus warranting similar research for identification of similar microbes in other regions.

Interestingly, the objective of this paper was to improve the ice cider fermentation process for the purpose of establishing a new ice cider production industry in Asturias, Spain. This is a region with a rich and lengthy history of cider production where they have also identified the potential value-added product diversification benefit of developing a local ice cider industry. This expressed interest in a well-established cider making region is indicative of the significant market potential of ice cider.The paper concluded that many of the isolated S.bayanus varieties were viable alternative primary fermentation microbes for ice cider production. Additionally, it was found that many of the tested S. bayanus varieties produced favorable flavor profiles with pleasant levels of flavor compounds.[6] [7]

Flavor profile is of utmost significant in production of ice cider as indicated by the previously discussed research. Currently, it is marketed as a premium dessert style alcoholic beverage and thus maintaining high product quality is essential. A method of determining flavor profile of cider is to analyze pressed juice attributes including soluble solids concentration, acidity, and tannin concentration. Soluble solids concentration is commonly used as an indirect measure of sweetness or carbohydrate concentration. This measurement is related to the final product sweetness and potential ethanol concentration. Acidity in cider is commonly measured as pH or total acidity (TA) from malic acid. This measure is directly related to sharpness or sour flavor attribute of the final product. Tannin concentration is a less standardized flavor measurement. It is related to both the bitterness and drying mouth sensation associated with final product flavor profile. Below in Table X is a synopsis of these juice quality traits recorded in previous literature for the apple cultivars to be analyzed in this research project.

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