Nava - Capital of the Cider Shire, page 2
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Spain Site Map - Asturias - Nava, capital of Cider Shire - page 2
Tapping a barrel of Cider (Sidra)
In Nava - A Taste of Cider an Asturias Tradition, page 2
Text by: Paula Repo
Photos by: Pasi Rein

The Art of Preparing Cider

In the Cider Museum you follow the apples from the fields to the cider houses. Formely, the machinery - includig the impressive looking cider-press - as well as the barrels, were made of chestnut or oak. In modern cider factories, steel has largely replaced wood. The apple juice ferments first in steel containers, before the liquid starts its fermentation process in wood barrels. This lasts at least six months, but the cider made of Asturian apples takes triple the time.

Photo left - before the bottles existed, cider was tapped off from barrels.

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Also the methods of preparing natural cider and sparkling cider are different. The traditional cider is natural without any filteration. It is still the most common type, but the modern sparkling cider with slow alcoholic fermentation in lower temperatures is becoming more popular.

The making of Asturias Cider, from press to bottle
Photos above - (top) In the old days, pressing machines were made of chestnut. (under) Filling, corking and labeling takes place automatically in cider houses.

Cider is a very old product, well documented in Asturias since Middle Age. Originally it was not poured from bottles, but tapped off from barrels, usually called pipas. In modern cider houses you can follow the convoyer, where the bottles travel in a steady stream from one phase to another, being filled, corked and labeled, all fully automatic.
Unlike wine, the cider likes to be disturbed. The cider cases are loaded in a machine, which keeps shaking them for some 15 minutes. Earlier this necessary movement was arranged by driving along the winding roads in a truck or cart.
There are many cider houses, which organise guided tours. Some of them, like La Cortina in Villaviciosa, are only a couple of hundred meters from the village centre.

Pouring Cider in Nava, Asturias
Photo above - Pouring cider, this is the way to wake the bubbles of the cider..

The Way of Enjoying Cider

Cider is offered in almost all Asturian bars and restaurants, but the "sidrerias" are the heart of cider drinking. In the villages of the Cider Shire you find many sidrerias with special menus combining cider with the typical dishes of the county.
The Cider Museum is a good place to practise both the pouring and drinking of cider. Pouring is difficult, but you do not need to worry about this, because waiters take care of it in sidrerias. Watching how the cider is dropped from overhead into a wide glass held down below the waist is an experience. The reason for this complicated method is to wake the bubbles of the cider. Each pour delivers a small quantity - a couple of fingers - which you drink slowly, steadily and in one go.

El Canu Sidereria
Photo above - El Cañu is one of the most traditional sidererias in Villaviciosa.

People come to sidrerias to enjoy each others company in a relaxed setting of food, drinks, games and music. In the Cider Museum, you can try the old and new games of sidrerias. A good example of an easy and amusing pastime is the "Frog", in which you score the higest points by hitting the frog´s mouth with a metal plate. Cider songs accompanied on bagpipes belong to the traditions as well. The museum has electronic bagpipes and multimedia presentations on cider songs and poems.

More on Asturias: Covadonga - Sanctuary of Asturian Glory

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This page last updated December 2009