Since I have been using Harrison apples as my reference for Apple Phenolics, I thought it would be good to provide the details of the Harrison apple. This was an apple lost in American for years. Like so many American apples, especially cider varieties, it fell out of favor along with cider. Most cider apple orchards were destroyed during prohibition, tolling the bell for the end of cider in America. This is when cider no longer meant a fermented beverage but started being marketed as unfiltered fresh juice. It also signaled the change of orchards to culinary and eating apples. Thus, many unique American cider apples simply were lost. The Harrison was one such apple.
Historical accounts said it produced a cider of exceptional quality. In fact, it was so exceptional that it sold for a huge premium compared to other ciders. This apple would have remained lost if not for orchardist Paul Gidez and Tom Burford. They each tracked down a Harrison apple tree just before it was cut down or died. Using some scion cuttings from these, they helped to propagate and reintroduce America’s quintessential cider apple back to the market. This is the reason I use it as a reference and benchmark for phenolic compounds. I realize adding peels will never turn a Granny Smith into a Harrison but, it will give your hard cider more phenolic compounds, just like a Harrison apple would.
Lastly, if you have Harrison apples to make cider, you may be thinking you don’t need to add peels. But, why not? The peels have over twice the level of phenolic compounds as the flesh. The only subcategory of phenolics where the flesh has more in a Harrison apple is the catechins and that is just a bit. Besides adding organoleptic characteristics to a cider and improving its quality, phenolic compounds are extremely healthful. Polyphenols have shown antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-hyperglycemic, and anti-inflammatory properties. They not only make your cider taste better, they can make it functional food. Why would you not add 75-125 grams of peels to a gallon of juice to increase the level of phenolics?
(1) K.A. Thompson-Witrick and associates, Characterization of the Polyphenol Composition of 20 Cultivars of Cider, Processing, and Dessert Apples Grown in Virginia, J. Agric. Food Chem. 62, 2014
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