Ellis Bitter

Why you should be excited

Ellis Bitter is an old English bittersharp cider apple that extends the cidermaking season by ripening earlier than most.

The story of Ellis Bitter

Once you get beyond two or three cider varieties in your orchard, you can specialize. That's the word I use, because it sounds better than 'obsess.' To me, both mean trying lots of varieties that are good at specific things.

Just like apples for fresh-eating or cooking, there's variety if you want it with cider apples and Ellis Bitter has a couple of attributes that set it apart in a desirable way. So it's really not just another cider variety.

First, it's a much earlier ripener than most of the great old cider varieties, many of which are among the last apples in the orchard to ripen. So, by growing this variety and other earlier ripeners like Bulmer's Norman, you can start making cider earlier in the year!

On top of that, this is a variety that's vigorous and has pretty good disease resistance, another characteristic that all too many cider varieties lack.

Ellis Bitter Facts

Its origins

Discovered in East Devon, England, mid 19th-century.

Flavour, aroma, texture

This is a medium bittersweet cider apple, contributing soft, astringent tannin. Best blended with other varieties.


A green apple covered (sometimes completely) with red stripes.

When they’re available

Mid-season (usually in September).

Quality for fresh eating

We'd say either 'not applicable' or 'terrible.' Your choice.

Quality for cooking

For cider and nothing else.

Quality for cider

It's a good one.

Keeping ability

Minimal (get 'em pressed and fermenting early on).