Sour Cherry Cider
If you’re in the market for a spouse, eat your summer cherries with care. And by all means don’t leave four pits – or any pit multiplier of four – on your plate. According to an old British superstition, you can determine your wedding date by counting the cherry stones around your plate and chanting: ‘This year, next year, sometime, never.’ The answer lies in the last stone.
Another cheery superstition states that those who visit cherry orchards must – repeat: must – rub their shoes with the leaves of a cherry tree. If they do not, they can look forward to death by cherry stone. And if you see someone running round and round a cherry tree, shaking it like mad, they might have fallen prey to another old cherry’s tale. The number of berries they dislodge with their shaking is said to represent the number of years they have left to live.
In 1653, eager readers of Nicholas Culpeper’s Complete Herbal read that sour cherries are ‘pleasing to a hot stomach, procure appetite to meat’ and help cut ‘gross humours.’ Dissolving the gum of the cherry tree in wine, Culpeper said,’ is good for a cold, cough, and hoarseness of the throat; mends the colour in the face, sharpens the eye-sight, provokes appetite.’
Portland’s Reverend Nat West has shaken down ten lifetime’s worth of sour cherries. His Sacrilege Sour Cherry Hard Cider has won gold and silver competition medals and was declared a ‘Top 30 Best Cider in the World’ by Food & Wine in 2017.
To create his tasty off-dry cherry potion, West brings together 100% sour Granny Smith apples, Montmorency sour cherries, Morello sour cherries, English Ale yeast from Chiswick London, Bartlett Pear juice, ghost chili pepper and a secret spice.
West – whose menu of cider offerings includes Deliverance Ginger Tonic, Revival Hard Apple and New Moon Mandarin – was drawn to making cider in 2004 when a friend’s tree produced more apples than they could bake, stir and dry into edibles. In 2013, he moved the business from his house to an abandoned warehouse in Northeast Portland.
Rev Nat’s Hard Cider is available across BC. If you’re up to a road trip, you can also find it at Oregon Cider Week, which in 2018 runs until July 1st.
You’ll see Sacrilege Sour Cherry’s West included in this excerpt from The Cider Hunters documentary.
Written by Elizabeth Newton
Header: Osias Beert. Still-Life with Cherries and Strawberries in China Bowls. 1608