Cider-related Terminology for Beginners


Ever walk into a room and feel like everyone around you is speaking a foreign language? Ever have the notion of getting into cidermaking or simply enjoying the science behind the process and looking dumbfound at the cider expert explaining it? Have no fear, my sweet child. We are here to drop some knowledge on cidermaking terms and cider terminology to get you up to snuff.

Racking – This is another term for siphoning off the cider when it is ready to be separated from the lees.  Typically you will rack for after your primary fermentation into another vessel for secondary fermentation.

Lees –  This is the left over dead yeast or residual yeast after fermentation that are at the bottom of your fermentation vessel.  This is the stuff that we want left behind after the cidermaking process.

Mead – An alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water.  This is a close cousin to cider and we love to explore mead as well.

MLF – This fermentation is a biochemical process performed by lactic acid bacteria like Oenococcus oeni which convert malic acid to lactic acid.  See our article that explores Malolactic fermentation (MLF) in depth.

Keeving – this is a long-tail style, 3-6 months, of fermentation that produces a naturally sparkling, tannic cider.  We have a full article on keeving!

Brix – You will see this from time to time on the back of cider cans.  This is the residual sugar left over in the cider that correlates to sweetness.

Hydrometer – This is a tool that measures specific gravity of liquids, which in cidermaking is how we can tell the alcohol content of the cider.

Inoculate – To introduce cell or an organism into a medium.  In cider this could mean introducing particular bacteria to get a desired result like the above MLF process where you would introduce ML cultures.

Fermentation – This is a process that coverts sugars to acids, gases and of course our favorite part alcohol.  In terms of cider the sweet sugars in the apple are eaten by the yeasts (either naturally occurring or introduced into the process) to create the hard cider we all love.

Pomace – Is the solid remains fruit after pressing for juice or oil. It contains the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems of the fruit. A integral cod in the process of how cider is made.

CiderScene – Your favorite source for news and information on the craft cider industry in the USA.


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