Cider houses in Navarra are emblematic places where the tradition of cider, an ancient beverage deeply rooted in Basque culture, is celebrated. The cider season in Navarra generally begins in mid-January and extends until the end of April.
The term "sidrería" refers to both the establishment where cider is produced and served, and the gathering place where people enjoy this delicious beverage. In cider houses, apple orchards are cultivated, and cider is made in an artisanal way. These places are known for their cozy and festive atmosphere, where the ritual of "txotx" is celebrated. This ritual involves opening the kupelas (cider barrels) and tasting the cider directly from them.
Kupelas are wooden containers, typically made of oak, where cider ferments and ages. These barrels have a considerable capacity and are lined up in cider houses to create an authentic experience. During the season, the kupelas are opened, and visitors come to the cider house to enjoy cider straight from the barrel, in a festive and social environment.
The cider house menu is another highlight of this tradition. In addition to cider, typical dishes that complement the experience are offered. Some of the most common dishes include salted cod omelette, grilled beef steak (chuletón de ternera), Idiazábal cheese, quince paste and walnuts, burnt cuajada (a type of dessert), Goxua cake, and cheesecake. These dishes are usually plentiful and shared among the diners at long tables, fostering camaraderie and togetherness.
Cider houses in Navarra are often located in villages surrounded by mountains, making them a unique experience for cider and Basque-Navarrese gastronomy enthusiasts. From the opening of the kupelas to the enjoyment of traditional dishes, these cider houses are an ideal place to immerse oneself in the culture and tradition of cider in the region.