Cidermaking
An ancient rural craft of England and Wales
Michael Quinion was the first curator of the Museum of Cider in Hereford and developed the museum from an idea to opening. His guide to traditional and modern orcharding and cidermaking craft skills has been republished by Shire Publications with an updated section on recent developments among commercial brewers.
Cidermaking, by Michael B Quinion, published by Shire Publications in September 2008, pp32, many illustrations; ISBN 978-0-85263-614-5; publisher’s price £4.99. Available from all good booksellers, and online from Amazon:
Buy from Amazon in the UK Buy from Amazon in the US Buy from Amazon in Canada Buy from Amazon in Germany The cover of Michael Quinion's Shire Album, Cidermaking

From the introduction:

The farm cidermaking tradition of Britain mainly relates to the production of cider each Autumn from fruit grown in the farm’s own orchard, to be drunk by the farm labour force during the following year, especially the busy times of haymaking and harvest. Cider was not normally considered a cash crop, although farmers used to sell cider to local pubs and cider merchants bought more for sale in the towns. It did not usually appear in the farm accounts and nothing was bought in from outside to make it, except the occasional cask. It was a private industry, self-contained and unobtrusive.

Normally every labourer was given a daily allowance of cider, which was accepted as being part of the weekly wage, certainly as much so as the small piece of land to cultivate or the allowance of potatoes, firewood, or other perks that were given from time to time. The daily ration was about half a gallon (2-3 litres), served out from the big barrels in the farm cider house into individual small wooden bottles, made in the same way as casks. These were called firkins in the West Country and costrels or wooden bottles in Herefordshire. Each labourer also had a drinking cup, holding less than a quarter of a pint, made from a cow’s horn.

Cider was particularly important at harvest time because it was also the coinage in which temporary workers were paid, together with bread and cheese. A farmer who did not make cider, or whose cider was undrinkable, found it more difficult to get the casual labour he needed and was reduced to buying good cider from someone with a surplus.