Bugs In the Works

Cider making in art always looks like a pleasant way to pass the time. Although cidering was done outdoors in mid to late- autumn when the weather can be questionable, it’s usually depicted happening during sunny and warm days.

Cider Making. William Sidney Mount, 1840-41. Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Unless the weather is cool, however, outdoor cider making can also mean bugs. Lots of bugs. Particularly, the stinging kind.

During a recent pressing on a pleasant mid-October day, our press was swarmed with hundreds of yellow jackets. They were everywhere, inside the grinder and the press, which means yellow jacket bits wound up in the juice. Even after everything was strained, a few of the more persistent ones found their way into the juice.

Floating (and dead) yellow jackets are often ignored by artists.

But it seems yellow jackets are a common part of cider making. Fortunately, some people’s cider memories include the less-than picturesque, as this piece, from the  Pittsburgh Press (October 20, 1991), p. W2., explains:

Click image to enlarge.

Next time you run across a cider or apple wine with a name like Yellow Jacket, or Stinger, or Yellow & Black, you might want to ask where they got the name from. They’ll probably have a story no painter could ever capture.


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