The Bristol Cider Apple Project

The Bristol Cider Apple Project

Somerset has a rich and diverse history of cider making. For exactly one hundred years (1903 to 2003) the Fruit and Cider Institute at Long Ashton Research Station was responsible for both breeding famous varieties such as Ashton bitter and for introducing new varieties (such as Katy) to UK cider makers. Although the institute closed in 2003, many of these varieties are still in use today and many more probably remain in local orchards known only to local small-scale cider makers.

Here at Bristol University, a small band of researchers, many of whom were ex-Long Ashton employees, are becoming increasingly concerned that while many of the Institute varieties had been physically described (for instance by Liz Copas; the last Long Ashton Pomologist), their genetic legacy might soon be lost forever.

To stop the South West losing this heritage, we intended to use the very latest technologies to genetically fingerprint as many Long Ashton Varieties as we can locate. In doing this, we hope to provide future workers with both a method for the identification of newly discovered trees and we will help to identify if Somerset cider apples have unique genetic characteristics.

In addition, and in recognition that Somerset cider makers generate what is probably the best cider in the world, we would like all of the local cider makers to tell us about their favourite trees. So, if you have a favourite tree that you believe generates the best Somerset cider, we would like to hear from you and, who knows, we might include your tree in our project.

3 thoughts on “The Bristol Cider Apple Project

  1. I have a very prolific and elderly apple tree here in my garden and would be interested to know if it is a good variety for cider.
    At the moment I am putting out on the wall two trays a day and on week days they are being taken by one person. I wonder what for? Perhaps cider as they are bruised.
    I hope you will come and collect some for your research.

  2. my father took a lot of direction from long ashton during the late forties and fifties i thinkwe have 26 acres of old orchards around wedmore, we have what was known as the young orchard which was planted in 1938 comprised of 3 varieties which if combined would make the perfect barrel of cider, most of those trees still survive although they are now beginning to fade, so if you want to come and have a look and if we can help your project in any way you will be most welcome.

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