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West Croft Cider - Cooking with Cider

The late Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, always advised never to cook with any wine you wouldn't drink. The same is true for cider, if you enjoy it in a glass, you will be likely to enjoy it in food. If you don't then it will be a waste of your time and cider.

There are no specific recipes on this page, just some general suggestions for using cider to best effect in your kitchen. If you have a favourite cider recipe, by all means email it to us. We will publish the best ones on a new page and send a little something nice to all contributors.

Gravies and sauces
In the making of sauces and gravy, anywhere that you would use any liquid, you can replace it with cider for a completely different flavour from an old favourite. Where wine is called for, replacing it measure for measure with cider can bring a contrasting sweet flavour that brings out the richness of just about anything. When using stock, replacing a part of it with cider just adds that most subtle of flavour overtones. The beauty of it is that with the variety of ciders available, you can adjust the taste of more or less any dish to exactly fit your palate. Try a mixed case of West Croft Cider Farm products and experiment, blend and sample away to your heart's content.

With meat
Marinating meat is a technique that has been used for centuries to tenderise and add flavour. Wherever you have a recipe that calls for a marinade of wine, beer or fruit juice, you can ring the changes with cider. The infinite spectrum of tastes can be produced with varying proportions of different cider varieties from sweet to bitter sharp. If you have a few hours and are feeling creative, how about getting out your favourite recipe book and putting some new flavours to old dishes?

Cider with ham or pork in any of their myriad forms is a marriage made in heaven. From a ham hock soaked for a couple of days in cider, to belly pork drizzled and pan fried for crispy crackling, cider just does something for this meat that no other drink can.

With fish
The variety of fish flavours from different species is as broad as any. From the extremely delicate taste of flatfish to more robust flavours of pollock and cod, or the meaty nature of conga and shark, there is a world of gastronomic possibility. Cider can be used in so many ways with fish. One of our favourites is fish stew on a winters day. Using a drop of Janet's Jungle Juice in the liquor (proportions to taste) really adds a rounded element to the stew, enhancing the flavour of the fish. Likewise, shellfish can benefit from a touch of the cider flagon too. Try making some moules marinieres using dry cider instead of white wine. You may never want to go back!

With poultry
When you are roasting your poultry, especially a larger bird like your Christmas turkey, try standing it on a grill over a bath of cider. This will moisturise the meat and add its own special flavour. You will also have the basis of the most delicious gravy ever. For stews and casseroles, add a little cider to your stock for a hint of extra taste. This also helps to reduce any feeling of greasiness from fattier birds.

With game
The only common characteristic of game foods is that they all have a very strong individual character and flavour. Textures vary, meat colours vary widely and the spectrum of flavours available to cooks is very broad. By adding cider to plum birds like pheasant and partridge, the strong flavours can be balanced with a fruity sweetness of reduced cider. Duck cooked with orange is very popular, largely because of the rich, fatty nature of the flesh. Dry cider will have a similar effect, but will impart its own unique, slightly acidic fruitiness. Even the powerful, iron-rich flavour of venison can be enhanced with cider based sauces. If you are going wild in the search of food, go wild in the kitchen, you are sure to bring out some great new flavours.

With vegetables
Steaming vegetables with some cider in the water is a sure fire way to add that certain something. Lefy vegetables like Savoy cabbage and curly kale with their high surface area to volume ratios soak up taste from cooking in this way. One of my favourite things with kale is to steam it in cider with a knob of butter and a star anise flower on top. Serve that with grouse and baby potatoes for accompaniment and you will see some smiling faces around your table.

If you are mashing root vegetables in winter, try adding a little cider instead of milk at the mashing stage. In summer a salad of grated raw vegetables in a vinaigrette dressing made with cider vinegar or even cider goes well with just about anything.

Potatoes
As a topping for a cobbler with rich beef stew beneath, potatotes soak up all the flavours around them. Try adding cider to the stew and your potatoes will be forever grateful. Fondant potatoes with a butter glaze and cider reduced to a caramelised state in the oven are a particular joy.

Baking potatoes takes quite a while in the oven or at the bottom of your Guy Fawkes bonfire, and there is very little you can do to speed up the process. This is where cider comes in. Pour yourself a glass of our award winning Janet's Jungle Juice for example and let your mind wander for a while. You will hardly notice the time slip by.

On its own
OK, so it is not cooking in many people's eyes, but at the cold times of year, there is little that cheers like a glass of mulled cider. Everyone has their own favourite combination of fruits and spices to go in, and you can add spirits to taste for that extra, extra warming boost that is so necessary at Christmas and throughout the winter.

Of course, we have our own secret recipe, which can be ordered through our online shop in the season and delivered with all you need in one convenient pack, ready to warm up and serve. They will love you for it!

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