J. Williams’s 1767 Recipe for ‘Summer Cyder’

To make Summer Cyder for present Use.

TAKE codlings, or other juicy summer-apples, not too sweet ; or if they are, allay them with sharper ; gather them not too ripe, but when they begin to turn, and lay them to sweat in hay or straw for two or three days ; then quarter them, and take out the cores and kernels ; then bruise and press them as the former1Meaning the former recipe in the volume, for making ‘Cyder’, which says “when they are come to a mash, put them into a hair bag, and squeeze them by degrees, not over hastily.”. Boil some slic’d codlings and slic’d quinces in fair water, with a few tops of rosemary, and blades of mace ; and mash this water with the pressings of the apples; press it out as before, and mix a fourth part with the cyder; put it up, and add two quarts of white or Rhenish wine to every twelve gallons ; purge it as the former, draw it off when settled, and keep it cool for present spending, for it will not keep longer than September. Some think the cyder better, if the apples are not cor’d.”

Primitive Cookery: or the Kitchin Garden Display’d second edition (1767) printed for J. Williams

This is an interesting one. Rather than pressing the apples and fermenting the juice over-winter to develop the alcohol content, it seems that this recipe is calling for a quick ‘fortifying’ of the apple juice, via – if I’m reading this right – the addition of a couple of quarts of “white or Rhenish wine” to every twelve gallons of apple juice.

It’s also interesting that the recipe calls for the addition of sliced quinces which, unless they were saved over from the previous year, would be very under-ripe and incredibly tannic so early in the season, surely? The addition of rosemary and mace should add a pleasant-sounding herbal note though, so perhaps that would take the edge off the quince-bite?

Finally, it’s interesting that this recipe has probably been taken from another book and bound into a collection by the publisher / printer in question, one J. Williams of No. 38 Fleet Street, London. This was quite a common practice at the time – an era in which recipes were specifically excluded from the Statute of Anne of 1710 and so could be copied by anyone without crediting the original author – and so it’s hardly fair to single Mr Williams out for criticism. But it would be interesting to know where he got the idea from.

In the meantime, if you fancy having a go at making a batch of ‘summer cyder’ – although perhaps not the full twelve gallons to start – or if you already know the origin of this recipe2Glances sidelong in Barry M’s direction… then please do let me know, via the comments.


  • 1
    Meaning the former recipe in the volume, for making ‘Cyder’, which says “when they are come to a mash, put them into a hair bag, and squeeze them by degrees, not over hastily.”
  • 2
    Glances sidelong in Barry M’s direction…

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