To make cider we can use as many as hundreds of varieties of cider apples. By appropriately combining acidic, sweet and bitter apples we achieve balance in the flavour of our cider. The different combinations chosen at our cellar will give us different nuances as regards aspect, aroma and flavour.
The importance of the raw material, the apple, cannot be undermined in the production process; depending on the varieties we choose, the weather and the time of harvest, we will obtain one kind of cider or another. At Petritegi we use around 25 varieties of apple, many grown in our orchards. Our family has always grown apples for cider. Today we work on the basis of a modern and ecological production system.
We could describe this as an apple of acidic-bitter flavour; it is, generally speaking, a fairly balanced apple for making cider. While a touch bitter, it is low in phenolic acids and will produce a cider rather pale in colour. This variety of apple tree produces large reddish-green fruit, usually every two years; in other words, if the harvest is good and produces a high apple yield one year, the following year it will produce less fruit (unless we thin the tree when it is in flower or when the apples reach a certain size). Despite this apple being good for making cider, in recent years replantation of the variety has dropped due to the fact that it is heavily affected by fire blight.
The Reineta is an acidic apple, with a hint of bitterness and high sugar content. In addition to being an apple highly appreciated for making cider, it also enjoys popularity as an eating and cooking apple; its Basque name comes from the Gipuzkoan town of the same name, Errezil, although in the town itself it is known as ‘Ibarbi’, name of the valley and one of the local farmhouses. Given its high sugar content, the reineta apple makes ciders difficult to enliven and gives them high alcohol by volume. It tends to yield fruit every two years. This is a strong apple tree; it should therefore be pruned sparingly, twisting its branches so that it will produce more fruit.
This is an acidic apple; you only have to taste it to see for yourself. It is green in colour and comes in fruit of average size. In view of its high acidity, it gives the cider a great deal of colour, thereby demonstrating its high phenolic acid content. It is a perfect apple for mixing with other varieties. Although it is not a particularly generous plant, if tended well it will yield fruit every year; however, great care must be taken with canker and stem rust, as this variety is regularly attacked by both of these diseases.
This is a balanced apple, combining a salty and bitter flavour; as with most apple varieties, it also contains rather a lot of sugar. Given this balance, it is considered to be a highly suitable apple for making cider. Within the bitterness, it has a high phenolic acid content; and, although it also has the aforementioned slightly salty taste, it renders a rather colourful cider. While this is a very generous variety, it tends to yield numerous harvests every two years; the trees should be thinned while flowering or while the fruit is still small to ensure a good annual yield. The diseases that cause the greatest damage to the Goikoetxea apple are the woolly aphid and stem rust.
This is a balanced variety; in addition to being a good cider making apple, it is also a pleasure to eat. It has a slight bitter flavour, an acidic touch, and sugar, but all to a moderate degree. It yields a rather large reddish-green fruit. This is not a particularly generous variety, but its harvests are similar every year. It is highly resistant to most diseases and the greatest enemy from which it requires protection is probably the red spider.
This is a hugely acidic and bitter apple; nobody can bite into a Moko apple without screwing up their face. Though impossible to eat, it is highly appreciated in cider making, acting as a corrector thanks to its high content of acidic and bitter flavours. It is an average-sized red apple. A rather generous variety and, if properly tended, one which will yield fruit every year. It tends to grow with straight branches pointing upwards, and its production will be satisfactory provided that the branches are spread out and twisted. Its greatest enemy is stem rust.
The Mozolua is a bitter apple, with low acidity. It is greenish in colour, of medium size, and contains large amounts of phenolic acid, thanks to which we obtain ciders with quite a lot of colour. Although it yields generous harvests, it tends to do so every two years; the trees should be thinned every year, so that fruit can be harvested annually. Stem rust is its greatest enemy and great care must be taken with the variety in cold, damp environments.
This is a bitter apple, with practically no acidity. It is a variety brownish-green in colour, of medium size, and which has a high phenolic acid content, thanks to which we obtain ciders with a little colour. It is a generous variety, although it yields fruit every two years; it is advisable to thin the fruit trees when the apples are burgeoning if fruit is to be harvested every year. This is generally a strong tree, although its strength will be above all determined by the graft carried out. Regarding the diseases that can affect his variety, we can particularly mention the woolly aphid and, to a lesser extent, the red spider and stem rust.
Is a highly appropriate apple for making cider as regards its components, given that this is a highly balanced variety. It is exceedingly acid, although it also has a bitter-sweet touch. Being acidic, it has low phenolic acid and renders a cider of very little colour. This is a large green apple. It is not known for yielding large quantities of fruit, but it does produce a harvest every year. It has high resistance to disease; leaf rust is its greatest enemy. It is a variety that matures early. The name Txalaka is thought to come from a farmhouse in Astigarraga with the same name.
This is a perfect apple for cider, a rather well balanced fruit. It is very acidic and a quite tart. One of its problems is that it has a prolonged and irregular ripening process; i.e. the fruit may ripen on the tree in September or in November. It is a fruit of considerable size, but not a particularly generous fruit tree; it produces fruit every two years. It is fairly resistant to most diseases. It is brownish in colour.
The Urdin Sagarra is very like the Manttoni apple; it combines acidic and sour flavours. It has an average phenolic acid content and therefore gives the cider a little colour. The fruit is quite small, reddish-green in colour and its trees do not yield particularly abundant harvests. However, according to the studies carried out, they do tend to yield fruit every year. While there is no particular disease that attacks the variety strongly, it does tend to show greater sensitivity to stem rust and canker.
This is an acidic apple with absolutely no bitterness which therefore produces a cider pale in colour. It is a large-sized green apple and tends to yield fruit every year. The apple trees tend to be very large in size, although this characteristic will depend on the graft carried out. The most common diseases in this kind of fruit tree are the woolly aphid and the red spider.
The Urtebi Txiki is quite a balanced apple, since it is both acidic and sour. However, given that it has low phenolic acid levels, the cider we obtain from this apple will have a rather pale colour. It has a small-sized green fruit and tends to produce its yield every two years. Unlike the Urtebi Haundia, the Urtebi Txikia is smaller in size, although this will also depend, as in the case of the former, on the graft we apply. Its greatest enemy is fruit rust.
This is an acidic apple low in bitterness, which therefore produces a cider pale in colour. It is a tree that generally produces a yearly harvest and is resistant to most diseases. In recent years the replantation of this variety has dropped, due to the fact that it is heavily affected by fire blight; it is nevertheless good for making cider.