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The tradition of Txotx, the cider season

Every January 20th marks the start of the cider season, one of the most iconic events in the Basque Country and a sign of the passion that its people have for their gastronomy and tradition.

The “cider season” refers to the moment when the “sagardotegis” (cider makers in Basque) expose the ciders they have been producing during the year to the market and the whole Basque community goes out into the streets to taste them to the sound of “txotx”.

This custom extends from January to April and the first “txotx” takes place in the renowned Sagardoaren Lurraldea (cider territory), which is made up of the municipalities of Astigarraga, Hernani and Usurbil, and is inaugurated with the planting of an apple tree and a traditional dance, the “sagar danza” (dance of the apple tree).

Once the season is inaugurated, it is typical to go on a tour of the different cider houses to taste the new harvest accompanied by a traditional menu, consisting of cod omelette, cod with peppers, grilled cutlet and cheese with quince jelly and walnuts for dessert.

Don’t be surprised if, while enjoying the local cider and the menu, you hear the locals shouting “toxtx”. This call is an invitation to get up from the table to go and taste a new barrel. Although it is true that this act happens less and less nowadays, it has a very curious origin.

In the past, the farmhouses in Gipuzkoa owned apple trees and produced natural cider for their own consumption. Once the cider had been produced, it was customary for neighbours and friends to taste them all and decide which had the winning flavour. To carry out the tasting, a small hole was made in the “kupela” (barrel) from which the cider was pressed directly into the glass. When the time came to stop the flow, the “kupela” was plugged with a thin wooden stick, or “txotx” in Basque.

Hence the tradition of shouting “txotx” to uncover the “kupela” with the stick and thus enjoy that season’s cider.

On the map you will find some of the traditional cider houses near Akelarre. If you would like more information or wish to visit any of them during your stay, please do not hesitate to contact our reception team.

eMe Be Garrote

Txirrita Sidreria

Lizeaga

Intxaurrondo Sidreria

Txuleta