Comparing Apples to Apples: Participatory Research for Artisanal Cider Producers

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $29,999.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2019
Grant Recipient: The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Michelle Miller
University of WI - CIAS

Information Products


  • Fruits: apples


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, grafting, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: value added
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, partnerships


    Hard cider is the fastest growing craft beverage in the US. With the price for cider apples higher than dessert apples, less focus on the fruit's cosmetic appearance, and emerging networks of farmers interested in craft cider production, this nascent industry offers opportunities for increasing economic, environmental and social sustainability in the North Center Region. Unfortunately, inadequate information about cider apple varieties and market preferences limit growers ability to tap cider's potential.

    The project tested 41 apple varieties with potential for sustainable cider production based on grower experience. Cider properties are assessed through lab and sensory evaluation. The study provides an artist's palette of promising cider apple varieties, and identifies a few flavor profiles that tasters rated highly.

    Trees that produce specialty fruit for hard cider must be grafted. The project teaches people interested in hard cider and apple production how to graft, using scion from highly-rated varieties provided by cider farmers.

    Project objectives:

    Identify 40 varieities with strong potential for hard cider production

    Evaluate the cider properties of each variety through lab and sensory evaluation

    Identify preferences for specific cider properties

    Disseminate findings through a web site, conference presentations and field days

    Conduct a scionwood exchange and grafting workshop

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.