Monday, October 21, 2013

The Apple That Won the Pulitzer Prize - Annie Proulx's Classic on Cider History and Making


Edna Annie Proulx (/ˈpruː/) was born August 22, 1935 and is an American journalist and author. She has written most frequently as Annie Proulx but has also used the names E. Annie Proulx and E.A. Proulx. Her second novel, The Shipping News (1993), won both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and was adapted as a 2001 film of the same name. Her short story Brokeback Mountain was adapted as an Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award-winning major motion picture released in 2005. She won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for her first novel, Postcards.
According to Wikipedia: Proulx (born Edna Ann Proulx, her first name honoring one of her mother's aunts), was born in Norwich, Connecticut, to parents of English and French-Canadian ancestry. Her maternal forebears came to America fifteen years after the Mayflower in 1635. She graduated from Deering High School in Portland, Maine, then attended Colby College "for a short period in the 1950s", where she met her first husband H. Ridgely Bullock, Jr. She later returned to college, studying at the University of Vermont from 1966 to 1969, and graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. degree in History in 1969. She earned her M.A. degree from Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University) in Montreal, Quebec in 1973 and pursued, but did not complete, her Ph.D. degree. Proulx lived for more than thirty years in Vermont…In 1994, she moved to Saratoga, Wyoming, where she currently resides, spending part of the year in northern Newfoundland on a small cove adjacent to L'Anse aux Meadows.

But what most people don’t know,  is that in the wines, beers, spirits, and cider world, she should be known only for one thing – writing the single best book ever written on cider. In 1980, got Gateway Publishing, Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols wrote Cider: Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider. Currently in its Third Edition, the book is available from Storey Books, part of the Workman Books company.

The sell copy reads: The Pilgrims drank cider as they sailed to America aboard the Mayflower. John Adams had a tankard of cider every morning at breakfast. After a long day on safari, Ernest Hemingway liked to kick back beside the campfire with a glass of cider. And Robert Frost saluted his favorite beverage with a poem titled ?In A Glass of Cider.? Neck and neck with brewing beer at home is the resurgence of making cider. Whether sweet, hard, blended, or sparkling, trend watchers say cider, once the preferred beverage of early America, could very well become the drink of the future. (Hard cider is the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry.) Keeping pace with the commercial cider producers are small-scale and individual cider makers who have discovered how easy it is to make their own. After all, the only ingredient you need is an apple. In this updated edition of Cider, Annie Proulx and Lew Nichols take you step-by-step through the process that renders fruit into a refreshing drink. In addition to learning about the equipment you?ll need to make a glorious cider, Proulx and Nichols also discuss the pros and cons of various types of apple presses ? from traditional heavy grinders to sleek hydraulic presses. You?ll also learn about the glass bottles vs. wooden barrels debate; how to filter, fine, and rack your cider; and where and how to store it. Proulx and Nichols provide detailed recipes for making six types of cider: still, sparkling, champagne, barrel, French, and flavored, with advice on which apples to use to achieve a tart, aromatic, astringent, or neutral quality in your cider. In fact, this book is brimming with expert advice on cidermaking. If you want to plant your own apple orchard, this book has an entire chapter that lists which cultivars of apples thrive in which parts of the United States and Canada, along with each cultivar?s characteristics and when it is ready for harvesting. Another chapter explains how to care for an orchard, from improving the soil to pruning and thinning the trees to fighting off pests and wildlife. Once a cidermaker has learned how to make excellent cider, he or she is likely to look for further fields t o explore. With that in mind, the authors include a chapter on making cider vinegars and brandy and using cider in cooking.
Finally, Proulx and Nichols walk you through the latest federal regulations covering the production and sale of homemade cider in the United States and Canada, and they familiarize you with the kind of impact state and provincial laws can make. The clear, simple language, numerous illustrations, and detailed step-by-step directions make it easy for even novices to become skilled cidermakers. This revised edition of the classic handbook is a complete guide for anyone who wants to discover the pleasure of making ? and drinking ? fresh cider.

The book is an absolute pleasure to read. My 1980 edition is dog-earred and well worn. But I have the newest 2003 edition of the book as well. Proulx and Nichols take you on a whirl wind history of the beverage as well as a detailed instructions on how to make it.
What makes the book sweeter is that the 2003 edition has an introduction by John Vittori, the wine and cidermaker of Furnace Brook Winery! This is the best single book ever written on cider, and is the only cider book you should ever need to for this history and making of cider. It is a classic of the wines, beers, and spirits cannon, and is certainly, due to it's parentage, a book to be included in the cannon of great east coast wine books!