Marketing consultant Mel Leitman is always on the look-out for a product he can endorse whole-heartedly. At a recent wine show, he sipped a pure, organically produced ice cider, and knew he’d found a product he could promote 100%. With apples as the only ingredient, it is also inherently kosher, and a natural fit for the MK - Canada’s Kosher Certifier. A preliminary visit by Rabbi Jaffe of the MK to the Maniadakis organic orchard, producer of Eros Ice Cider and Still Cider, lead to certification of the product, as a novel addition to kosher cuisine.
The road to cider purity was not easy. In 1991, Emmanuel Maniadakis bought a 160-acre apple orchard in Franklin Centre, near the U.S. border. For several years, others ran the farm for him; then, in the late ‘90s, he decided to farm full-time himself, and ran into an unexpected roadblock. “I developed severe allergic reactions to the crops, including nausea, vomiting, and skin rashes, from the pesticides,herbicides, and fungicides,” said Emmanuel. “I was ready to give up. Everyone said organic apple farming couldn’t be done here in Quebec due to our heavy rainfalls, which cause fungus.” Maniadakis however, didn’t give up.
He uprooted the existing trees, disposing of them in an ecologically sound fashion. It took a further year to condition the soil and remove all traces of chemicals and pesticides. He then planted 13,000 new apple trees of over a dozen different varieties, using no chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, and only organic fertilizer. To prevent infestation, he uses Kaolin, a natural, inert, edible compound; it coats the apple skin, so insects cannot adhere to them. His farm is the only certified organic and biodynamic orchard in Quebec, and is the only producer of organic Ice Cider and Still Cider in the world, a product now available to the kosher consumer.
The apples for the first batch of apples for EROS Ice Cider came off the trees in 2009, and were available through the SAQ in 2013. Unlike non-organic processes, which introduce yeast and other additives to allow fermentation in as little as 60 days, Emmanuel allows his apple nectar to ferment for a full year in a low temperature, slow-fermentation process in stainless steel tanks. After the first year the cider is “aired” and then resealed in another tank, where it naturally stabilises for another year. The alcohol content varies slightly each year, as there are none of the additives used by non-organic producers to ensure consistency. Emmanuel also uses a dozen variety of apples to create the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, as opposed to the common practice of adding fish, eggs, milk, enzymes, sugar, or animal by-products.
The resulting cider, with an alcohol content of approximately 12%, makes a good substitute for white wine with a fine meal. Eros Organic Ice cider comes from apples left on the trees to freeze, then picked in January/February. This results in a thicker product with slightly lower alcohol content. Suitable for aperitifs and dessert, ice cider is also delicious poured over ice cream or cake, and should be served very cold.