“Before Mance, Varamyr Sixskins had been a lord of sorts. He lived alone in a hall of moss and mud and hewn logs that had once been Haggon’s, attended by his beasts. A dozen villages did him homage in bread and salt and cider, offering him fruit from their orchards and vegetables from their gardens.” -A Dance with Dragons
This is an awesome, no hassle cider. Because it naturally ferments, there’s no need to judge what yeast to use, or watch for blow-offs. There is no lingering yeast taste at the outset, which means it’s great to drink immediately after it’s done fermenting, or at any point during the fermenting process if you’d prefer a lower % alcohol with greater fizz. In fact, many of you have probably enjoyed cider that has gone slightly hard: the giveaway is the puffed up plastic jug, and the pfffft! of air when you take off the cap.
The fully fermented cider, when first tried, is dry, but with a nice round feel to it. The apple flavor is there, but not the sweetness. Instead, it has a sour apple element that I found quite pleasant, if a tad rough.
Although the wildlings would probably drink their cider as soon as it was alcoholic, I set a couple bottles aside to see how the flavors changed over time; It’s also a colonial American method of making cider, and I’m curious to see how it ages!
Update 1: After 2 months in the bottle, the sediment has fallen to the bottom, leaving a clear cider, provided you pour very carefully. The taste is a bit crisp and tart, and more rounded than it is straight after fermentation.
Update 2: At 3 months, the cider is startlingly clear, with only a slight yellow-green tint. It’s dry, slightly tart, and considerably better than I had imagined from such a simple, unrefined style.
Wildling Cider Recipe
Makes 1 Gallon Fermentation: ~2 weeks
Cook’s Notes: I recommend unpasteurized cider simply because it is the closest to what the wildlings would use. Any pasteurized cider will probably ferment well, too.
- 1 Gallon unpasteurized apple cider
- Either an airlock, or a piece of fabric and a rubber band
Open your jug of cider. Cap with the airlock, or cover with fabric, and let sit in a corner of the kitchen. Yes, it’s that easy.
Listen to the cider ferment; it should bubble quietly after a few days, and continue to grow stronger as it sits. It will develop a sort of foam on top (see photo below), which is another indication it’s going well. Either drink right away, or, once the fermentation is completely finished, bottle to enjoy later.
*As always, when bottling in glass, be sure that the fermentation has completely stopped. You can also bottle in clean plastic soda bottles, which are designed to withstand bubbly pressure.*