Monday, 27 December 2010

Ice in their Cider Anyone?

Just how did I get 6.5 gallons into a 5 gallon barrel? Well I didn't, though thought I did...
With a view to freeing up a 30 litre bin, I'd transferred Batch 1 last week to the 5 Gallon sherry container (now that 2 has gone - mainly on topping up other batches) only to discover today that it contained a lot of ice:

showing some residual cider in the bottom:

...this much in the sink:

explains how I got 6.5 gals into a 5 gal container...

I'd used the tap on the barrel and hadn't peeked inside till today. Just shows how cold its been all over Christmas this year. Had it thawed and refrozen it would have formed a solid in the bottom, but it was still in fine ice-crystal layers!
Leaves Batch 1 a little more potent at least!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Not just for drinking...

Ham cooked in cider is another reason! Imparts a lovely flavour...

Friday, 24 December 2010

Old Poet's again, again...

And it came to pass 'twas Quiz Night again - I got one answer right - yes, just the one - waste of a quid really, any ways the cider was even more of a mystery:

Orchards Wye (tends to suggest the Wye Valley) - got that stainless steel + acid edge (which tends to suggest NOT the Wye Valley...)


Mc(something) (tended to suggest a name...) - rather better than the above, with a rounder tannic edge.

Bearing in mind that the glasses could have been confused on their way from the container to the bar...

Directing enquiries as to the whereabouts of these two ciders at the landlord proved fruitless: "I've no idea," was his response.

Two mystery ciders indeed... craft or crafty?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Minus & Miners...

Well as the temperature dropped to -10c last night, the last apples prepared this morning were quite solid, but went through the scratter okay. These are the 15lbs of crabs for just a gallon of single variety (I call them P.O.W - as the nearest pub to their location is the Prince of Wales) these could turn out to be a good 'cider apple' as they have a good mix of suitable properties. If this batch works I'll be tempted to try some grafting, or maybe see if I can't peg down a branch or two to root - the idea being to source and preserve some good original Derbyshire cider fruits! In this way I can perhaps gather together some of the better crabs and find good locations (ideally not too far from a layby or car park) where access is not too difficult, for my old age... lol.
I'd be 'shot down' somewhat to send a few off to Brogdale at some later date only to discover that they are a recognised variety anyway! Most unlikely though, but not impossible, as they could have been planted with 'remaindered' nursery trees as a roadside screen...
It's interesting to note that some stretches of road have more wilds than others - I like to think that an 'apple-a-day' enthusiast has discarded their cores on a regular basis, perhaps miners on their way to or from work, or maybe school kids - Johnny Appleseed characters or what?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Made it!

550 litres... phew. There's enough crabs left maybe for 5 litres of a single variety - just out of interest really, to see what it would be like. Plenty of sweets - mainly GD, in fact all GD... surely? No sharps at all, not even a one to go with the chops tomorrow... so that's just about it. 16's popping away merrily and 17's just started fermenting and will need an airlock tomorrow. Can't be arsed to take the gravity on the 2 batchs making 18...

Scratter Assembly

As all the Batch18 apples are now prepared (54lbs sweet, 30lbs sharp and 36lbs bitter sweet for those last 2*20 litres - got the 2 containers 'sweet' in the end with a caustic solution) ready for scratting (milling), I thought it might be of interest to include some pics of the very effective but cheaply-made scratter.

Back plate slotted in position:

A thin ply spacer fits on top - (push fit)

(note scuffs from screw heads)

then front plate slides into...


followed by the feed plate:


and 'hopper' (only shaped thus by using up scraps of 12mm ply... but does allow access for a 'paddle' to encourage bigger apples through)

Ready for drill attachment:

Note arm prevents drill from acting counter clockwise:

Note direction of drill set to rotate away from feed plate:

and in use:

after scratting 90lbs apples - feed plate slid back, showing tendency to clog (though didn't on this occasion)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

17 in and some...

...made 1.050, so no change there. Left it under pressure and got another 3 litres of nice clear juice which will come in handy for topping up (in a 3l Robinsons juice container as 17a alongside 14a which has almost fermented out now)
Most of 18 prepared ready for weekend but still need 24lbs crab mix. Another loud crack from the press on those last few litres - thought I may as well fill the 3 litres - but think it will hold for the last pressing... 'ding dong merrily' or what?

More snow...

No work due to the weather, yet again, so it's pressing time once more...
With over 510 litres now pressed (112 gallons) there's just a few more litres needed from the press for 17 then I'll bring it in with the others - (11 to 16). It's that bloomin' cold again in the garage I've come in for a warm and a nice cup of tea...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Simply Delicious!

- that's Batch 5 - seen here being racked with the Whale submersible pump into it's barrel:

A little cloudy yet, but very nice on the palate:

...should be a tad more acidic at this stage though. Checking my notes I see that 20lbs of mild sharps were used out of a total of the 30lb sharp portion - be interesting to see how it progresses...

Now I have a spare container for the next - Batch 17 will take me to 510 litres of juice.
Now the snow has largely gone (been quite bad here in North Derbyshire) I did some hedgrow ferreting yesterday and returned with 45lbs more crabs with no frost damage. This is probably down to the carpet of ivy and leaves beneath the trees, but the crabs are hardier too.
I have enough sharps left for just the one more batch - 18 if I can manage it. I have scrounged 2x 20 litre ex-vegetable oil containers, but am struggling to get them 'sweet'...
Maybe overtones of rancid vegetable oil will improve the last batch though..?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

16 now in...

...but it's nothing compared to these guys:

BBC's 'The One Show' Friday 10/12 (from 5:24)
[Unfortunately no longer available]

Must have been made before the heavy snow falls but there was a bit of snow about.

Also found these:

Ampleforth Abbey Cidermaking

Northern Apples

Friday, 10 December 2010

Ready or Not...

Batch 16 is now prepared. Some of the apples are unaffected by the frost - the top layer here(12lbs) is unscathed but the 8lb layer beneath is all brown and crinkly, though still juicy, so...

Yesterday I visited a Golden Delicious tree with lots of fruit still hanging - too much for the birds it seems - reaching up for a few I soon realised they were simply mush beneath the intact skin. But the mush tasted sweet and would surely yeild juice. The ones I have left are thawing now, but don't seem to be turning to mush like the ones still on the tree, though bruised areas do seem to be more affected. Undamaged then, the apples seem to fare better in freezing conditions. Maybe the old boys in years gone by built a tump with layers of straw..? though hard winters are most likely the reason they learned to get 'em all pressed before the end of November...
All good stuff.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Oh & 'Baron Aldi'...

Forgot to post this, but before I got busy I made a few small few-litre batches of cider that I've already touched upon, but in seeking out different apple juices (pasteurised 'n' all that) - available in 1 litre cartons - I noted similar cartons of grape juice in Aldi. 'Not from concentrate' read the label, so in a moment of madness I bought 3 litres and bunged it into a Robinsons plastic juice container - sprinkled in some yeast and left it for a few days. Thinking I'd end up with a red wine, I was surprised (albeit mildly) to end up with 3 bottles of an acceptable rosé! Now had I left it for a few months it would have been better... (wine benefits too from secondary fermentation and is repressed by some makers wanting a more acid wine) Not being arsed to take the gravity, I left it to ferment furiously - I suppose 'cos there's more sugar than apple juice - and it cleared beautifully.
Anyway I'm planning to give it another stab with 5 litres (89p per litre btw) - don't get me wrong, it wouldn't win any awards, but it was a lot better than some of the rosés that are passed off as such in the supermarkets.

'Quatermass and the... Pit'? 'and the Fermenter Bin' - yep 15's up and running.
The sweets prepared for 16 are looking a bit grim now they're thawed out but I reckon they'll make juice okay - just 20lbs of bitters to do now. If there's time this week it would be good to start on 17 which will achieve over 500 litres of pressed juice and get 'em both pressed this weekend. Another batch would be good as I'll then end up with 500 litres of cider after the necessary topping up as I prefer to keep it at 100% juice and top up the fermenters with cider than a water. I reckon 40 litres should cover all the topping up...
I can't imagine how small producers turn out 1000+ litres working on their own... I'm knackered... but it's 34 yrs since I made my first ciders and perries and you do learn something new every time, but I'm starting to forget things now too ... like where the hell I got that sherry barrel from?
I remember making some perry in the early eighties and I got a stone jar on loan from a farmer. I filled it and tied down the rubber bung and left it for a few months. At the appointed time I took it outside and cut the cord. With an almighty bang and gush the bung was gone - disappearing into the night air. I waited a while, then, thinking the bung was lost, picked up the jar and turned for the door when I heard it bounce off next door's roof!
The perry was good - though it would have been better had the farmer not used the stone jar for storing diesel at some point!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

More on frozen apples:

...seems other cider makers having similar troubles - here at cider-workshop discussion.

I just hope they don't all turn to mush if there's a sudden thaw!
I've found a 25litre ex-sherry plastic barrel, so I'm thinking of doing some topping up and what's left bung in there to free up another 30 litre bin - currently using these which are actually 30L and not 25 as stated.

Golden Deli's 'n stuff...

Well I've just been reading Andrew Lea's excellent source for we 'attempters'... It's the comments on using more flavoursome varieties than GD (and Bramley) on his page 'Tannin in Cider Apples' that got me thinking about one of my later aquisitions - that tree full of Golden Delicious.
Amateur apple scroungers, like myself, have to make do with what we can get. I've not done bad this year, but it's not all been plain sailing -

On a daily basis I was passing laden trees on a local farm. One day I could see some people collecting apples from one of the 4 or 5 trees in a row in the garden. Thinking I might run low on sweets, I pulled over, only to get 'short shrift' from the elderly couple taking a few carrier bags of 'cookers' - 'You'll have to see *****,' insisted the lady. So I tracked down ***** (the farmer) and we chatted about cider and the lot of dairy farmers and farming and T.V's 'Country File' for a good ten minutes... 'If I can help out I will do,' he said at length, but he likes to leave them for the birds as he'd seen many a fieldfare during last winter's snow feeding on the unused fruit. Fair do's - his apples, and bearing in mind his kind offer I set off for the local church yard for a sackful of sweets (probably wilds) and it was the next day that I chanced on the tree full of GD's. And that's it: we have to make do with what we can get, but are GD that bad? When we think of the variety, I think we associate the charactaristics of the French GD - bland and watery, but I find the English grown (certainly the ones I use) more flavoursome, and being juicy and very sweet come in handy for bulking up the sweet portion which is more to add sugar than flavour, surely?
For this next batch I've used 2/3rds GD for the sweet portion with two other (unknown) sweet varieties, though any surplus this year will be GD as I've got loads left yet - ideal for the birds with a high carb content too!

Pleased to see a pair of blue tits and a couple of robins feeding at the makeshift bird table this afternoon - a male blackbird too (not seen the female since this morning...) and I could hear the high pitched squeak of a wren. Word must be getting round about the morsels. It's worth noting that the only time I've seen the tiny goldcrest is during harsh winter spells where their tiny bodies have given up the struggle. Bigger birds stand a better chance of survival and maybe the fieldfares will be back at the farmer's apples this year already...

'Sort them frozen apples...' the tune of ABC's 'Shoot that poison arrow...' (from 1:02) - bit of a trip down memory lane... no idea why, but that tune's been in my head all week... must be the cold?
So, frozen apples and cider? Bit like Magners & ice - but at the outset, lol... I think I'd rather risk the ice at the beginning (rather than drive the old Panda straight through a wall to get the apples pressed while they're still fresh (??) The power of advertising or what?
Are they going to turn to mush, I wonder? Well a quick search turned up this:

...maybe he blanches 'em 1st..?

Batch 14 has started fermenting - the bucket lid was well bowed up! Airlock now fitted.
Be interesting to see what happens to 15 as some of them were frozen or partly so, but the juice seemed fine, though the pulp was quite runny and the yeild was up.
The Golden Delicious prepared this morning were frozen but cutable with a knife, but some other sweets weren't (frozen, that is), so it seems some are more frost resistant than others.

Just 3 batches to go... Hmm, I'm going to have to magic a few containers yet - buying might be more practical though.

A very weak blackbird entered the apple store this morning - she just sat on the floor exhausted. I've put some apples at the bottom of the garden and there's fat balls and peanuts, bread and some bits of ham and cheese... (water as well, as they might not be able to get at the pond water) but no birds now... Blackbirds are ground feeders (though they do take the apples I've left on the tree - but they've been snow-covered all week) so I've put some under a plastic table and some stuff on a feeder and last week I knocked up a feeding table with a top on, but it's not very secure as it's just hanging from a branch and the swaying might put them off..?
Anyway, hopefully this week will see at least batch 16... Back's holding out, but troublesome.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Hey, 15 is in!

450 litres now! - most I've ever made... on a scale of 1-10 though back is at about 6 - it got up to 7 yesterday sorting the apples trays round. 8 and it gets serious... might take some Ibruprofen tonight... if I can find some that is.


Well 14 pressed okay - made 1.050 - it's now in the kitchen in a 30 litre fermenter bucket - the ones with a big lid and hole for a small bung and air lock. Took some transporting from the garage - had to drag it along the ice...
There was a 30 litre fermenter in my local Wikinsons - been there for weeks... went to buy it yesterday and guess what? Gone. So now I've got nothing for batch 14 that I hope to get pressed later today. I'll need to transfer batch 4 into the last Supercask 1st though.
Meanwhile Wilbur's tail bandage (3rd now) is holding well - the 2nd vet made a better job. Big bandage - little cat...

right, apples to sort...

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Well, batch 14 is scratted and pulped ready for pressing, but no way am I standing around in that garage any more tonight...
Thing is, can I now get the remaining apples pressed before the frost gets them with a predicted minus 7 tonight..? I've put a small heater on to prevent the pulp from freezing but the apple store is open to the weather, so we'll just have to see how things pan out...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

'Snow good...

After pressing 13 on Sunday, I accidentally trapped the cat's tail in the door - 2" of it remaining on the closed side (the poor traumatised cat on the other...), so what with one thing and another (ie. the vet's run and the turn for the worse in the weather), there's no progress on batch 14 as yet...
I've never seen so much snow fall so early either. There's a path to the garage now, but more snow is forecast tonight...

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tidying up...

Well 8 pumped out okay... didn't taste very good - reckon it'll come good though (SG1.005) - others around 1.002-1.004.
With the early snow an icy path to the garage hasn't helped with the necessary toing and froing and I've already got bloomin' chilblains.
Still got to get the 18lbs crabs sorted yet... phew, shopping list next - just time for a cuppa...

Back ache - rack ache!

Spent today racking... and back is aching... 7 refused to pump with the submersible so I had to raise it so that some syphon action helped but it gave up at about 1/3rd full and so syphoning was the only option... and the pump had stirred up all the sediment - still it is it's first rack. Might as well tackle no.8 while I've got it all set up - I'll try and pump 1/2 out first to make it easier to lift. Here goes...

Friday, 26 November 2010

Repeat after me...

...'must rack batches 3-7 this weekend', and press 13... and prepare 14. Just 18lbs of crabs needed for 13 now... oh and then there's work - the bill paying stuff...

Thursday, 25 November 2010


I don't need 'em now... but I came home with sh*t loads more apples today - windfalls (nay just 'falls' by now...) - there's a reason though. The many Golden Delicious of last week's sortie are not as tasty as the two sackfuls brought back today and the sharps - just a bag full - are less sharp than some I have... No bitters today though - not a oner...
Two tubs now prepared for batch 13 and the 390 litre mark...
It has to be noted that weariness is now creeping in...


A couple of forays yesterday sees the bitter stocks up: 10lb and a 28lb. This means I'll have some surplus on 5 more batches at 20% bittersweet, though will be 13 lbs short at 27%. There's a couple of locations to try yet... One yesterday revealed nothing at all - clearly a biannual (can be a problem with wild trees and why it's well to source a good few...) - and there I was expecting to come upon a nice green carpet. Another, though not particularly bitter - more sweet - yielded yet another 28lbs, so should reach the target of 500 litres (of pressed juice that is)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Getting there...

Sunday: prepared for 12 and took stock of remaining apples: sweets: 295 lbs; sharps: 170 & bitters only 71 lbs. So with another 5 batches left to press (6 would be better mind...)
Pressed 12 Monday night... but the central heating went off, so priorities and all that...
Simple plumbing problem - heating sorted (for now...) and tidied up from 12 inc. scrubbing down the press boards. Started on sharps for 13...

Apple stocks only show a surplus on all three with a 60/25/15 (%) mix - ie: sweet, sharp and bitters, so looks like I'll be grubbing about in hedge bottoms again this week for more crabs. Reckon I should be able to muster enough to get that up to 20% though - otherwise these last batches will tend to be a bit bland.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Batch 11 tonight -

just after those last few litres now... be good if I could get 12 sorted and pressed tomorrow. Bath time now for me...

Neat Demonstration!

Here's why its a good thing to maintain a little fermentation with stored cider:

As C02 gas is heavier than air it stays below any air in the same container thus forming a protective layer that helps prevent spoilage.
Here the Co2 gas is 'poured' from the glass thus starving the candle of oxygen.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

And then some...

So this evening has seen batch 2 racked. The Young's taps have a nicer feel to them so I swapped the tap first... and the sterilising takes ages, but batch 2 came through a lot clearer for tie wrapping the Whale pump to a stick. This is from the Pooley and Lomax suggestion of using a cane for the racking tube. I've never done this before (as it's more to sterilise innit...) but it's well worth it - a solid tube would be good - I should get my thinking cap on... anyway with more control over the pump (though I could do with an inline switch while I'm at it... doh...) there's less panic when you get near the bottom and I hardly drew any lees in - very clear - in fact could be too clear if I wanted to ferment it further...

Donor and recipient on floor - a pump saves a dead lift of 30kgs! (good news for my ageing back that was complaining after collecting the 4 sacks of apples earlier...)

the submersible pump 'strapped' to a plywood stick gives better control:

Yeast and remaining lees in the freed-up container:

Home made plywood spanner fits both the Youngs cap and HB cask cap (only just on the HB though and needs improving as the handle lugs get in the way...):

Degustation time!!

Beautifully clear, a little more acidic than no.1, but again a very promising cider nouveau - certainly puts the 'turbo cider in it's place, lol...

Still apples to be had...

As it came on to rain at lunch time, and as it happens my customer at the time has an orchard... and 'that tree over there is laden.' Golden Delicious may not have a lot of flavour, but they have a lot of sugar... an hour and 4 sacks later there were still more on the tree...
Same on Monday - passed two laden trees (municipal) and stopped to collect 2 bags of windfalls - and this was after collecting plenty of fallen crabs on the way over. One of them looks like 'Liberty' - has greenish flesh and sweeter than it should be maybe... I dunno, not good on names - it's the flavour that counts! Anyway, this is it:

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Batch 1 on Tap..!

Unintentionally of course - only it's 2nd rack, lol - but as I'm out of fermentors the 30 litre barrels is all I got... lovely flavour (bit acidic mind... which is to be expected) and it's going to difficult not to open the tap now and again...

Sunday, 14 November 2010

300 litres!

Batch 10 makes 1.052, and adding a few extra pounds of apples did the trick, leaving a bit of surplus to 'backfill' batch 9.
Earlier batches are needing racking now too - I'm out of fermenters now but have 4 empty 30L supercasks, but still needing more containers...

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Up 'ere fo' thinkin':

Adapted scratter in the 'UP' position:

the arm secures the set-up for easier changing of the tub:

...however it has taken to clogging up again...

Sublime and... well, plain ridiculous

Them there's apple pips saved from the crab apple sort - planning a Johnny Appleseed post - the other's a bit different for a white cider - 49p at local bargain store 'Job Lot' - (top right's the kettle)
here's back label:

High Spirits International..? LS12 2PY..? Armley... Leeds..? 'Fully matured - Aged in Oak' 7.5%...

't'internet fo' thi:

Hi-Spirits International

Scotch Park Trading Estate,
Forge Lane


LS12 2PY

- wish I'd bought a few more really... not that I'm advocating rushing out mind

Laugh Out Loud...

...roll on floor laughing:
Just feeling a bit mental really. Last 2hours doing crab apples...
Batch 10 pressing tomorrow but I still need another 12 lbs of the little-
my hands can't take it no more... probably arthritis...
At some point amateur cider makers have to decide whether to continue to handle and check every single bl**dy apple or just chuck 'em in... 10 x 90 = 900lbs, then there's the ones that got away by rotting or revealing wireworm holes that go in all directions or mouldy middles.
They'd laugh down Somerset all right - they got proper 'cider apples' down there...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Batch 9 in...

...just (made 1.054) - Had to coax every last drop from the press that has developed a few more (for the moment) small cracks. I think I must have scales that weigh low (some old Salter bathroom scales with an LED display) and as I've used different containers I must have ended up with less apples. Switching the pulper back on without putting an empty tub underneath didn't help either - sh*t for brains or what?
Anyway leaving the press under pressure all night has coaxed the level to just below the shoulder on the Young's fermenter bin, but probably not done the ageing timbers of the press any good, and there's only one spare 6"x2" piece left, but I did speak to a customer yesterday who has some 4 or 5" channel steel section going begging. Whether there'll be time to bolt or weld something up now is another matter...
300 litres is next target, and with around 6 weeks left, if I can keep the press going I might just make it and though it's hard going on your Jack Jones there's still apples to be had.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Gravity of the Situation...

...dire, weatherwise (with bills to be paid) and low ciderwise:

Batch 8 struggles to make 1050

Though, with such unsuitable conditions for the day job, there's time to sort some crab apples towards batch 9. These are quite sweet, juicy with high tannin content:

but need a wash...

and kitchen's getting a bit cluttered!

...more space needed!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Batch 8 the bag, well bin.
10.40pm, I'll do the gravity test and wash the press boards down in the morning ...
This 'ere Cromwell's Last Gasp has all the properties of a bottle conditioned cider and would come over better as such with its more subtle flavour, champagne style that is, as do Burrow Hill (for one) - really dry and bubbly... yeah, I reckon.
Bath time methinks

The Boy Done Good...

...but not good enough:
Over ambitious or what? I'd prepared the 90lbs for batch 8 (scratted and pulped by midday - photo) and decided to go for 2 pressings today... by 3pm I'd got the sharps and the sweets ready, but realised that if I tried to sort out the bitters I'd lose out on the pressing all together if not careful. So at least I'm ahead on batch 9 preparation at least. 8 is still in the press, tweaking for the last few litres and there's quite a bit of creaking and cracking as that new top beam settles - fingers crossed x

As the apples dry out a bit it might be better to add a few extra now maybe 93-95lbs..? well, old bits of timber do have their limitations I suppose!

Tried a glass of the Cromwell (Last Gasp)... bit disappointing I must say, certainly lacking the rustic charm and flavour of the Pickled Pig. It's a bit more like my turbo cider, though with a little more sophistication to be fair...

Time to give the press a tweak...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Yeast and stuff

If there's no yeast in apples there should be no natural fermentation with new press cloths, boards and collecting plate. Though the scratter had been used before there is no chance of cross over from cider related stuff as it only comes into contact with apples. When setting up from scratch then there should be no natural fermentation occurences if it's down to 'contamination' of cider making equipment. Even when the apples are washed natural fermentation still occurs...
Conclusion: there is indeed yeast in apples! ...or it's all down to Malus Magic.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Those Cambridge Ciders

Left to right - Breton Cidre 'Valderance'* Traditionnel Bouché Brut from Cafe Rouge, Cromwell's 'Oliver's Last Gasp' and the 2.5 litre flagon of Pickled Pig's 'Porker's Snout'
*This link shows labels with the same Valderance logo. Bouché = sparkling, but bottle conditioned..?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Rain Starts Play

As it turns out I had some bits of 6" x 2" - can't remember where I aquired them, but far too good to leave in the skip...
Replaced the cracked side only -

cracked side removed:

Using old beam as template for holes:

New section in place...

...noticably longer than old piece, giving more strength at end grain hopefully:

1" ply load-spreading top plate refitted (tight push fit):

Better left for that bit of extra strength than sawn flush?

Hopefully this will last until I can make myself a better one from steel... just 290 litres to go ;)

Monday, 1 November 2010

'Pickled Pig...'

A weekend away is always a good chance to try out other ciders. Cambridge area offers the above made at Stretham (from local apples) - 2.5 litres a tenner (Porker's Snout) from Griffins, 3 Cups Walk, Ely. Then a couple of bottles of Cromwell's from Oliver Cromwell's Tourist Info shop - not tried the dry (Oliver's Last Gasp) yet though.
'Origin8' in Cambridge have gone (now a Pizza place) and so the chance was missed to get hold of some Cassells as the other outlets (both Bachanalia) were closed on the Sunday. The lady in Threshers did point to their own Breton cider...
Chain owned Cafe Rouge had a rather pleasant Breton Cidre on the menu, which left a little cloudiness in the bottle though not enough, I decided, for it to be bottle conditioned.
Better get that press mended...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

'Trouble at 'mill...'

'One o'crossbeam's s'gone out o'skew on'treadle...':

Not the Spanish Inquisition as in the famous Monty Python sketch, but could be a serious drawback until I can either replace the section (6" x 2") or patch it up.
Still, got batch 7 pressed, all the time expecting to hear another loud crack! It's getting that last few litres of juice that's the test for a home-made press...

Not half way yet though...

Monday, 25 October 2010

Ooo, a sit down...

Been a crab apple evening... working towards batch 7 now. This is to be a mix of 40% sweet, 33% sharp and 27% bitter. Just need 2lbs more bitters now and I can get 'em scratted. There's talk of rain tomorrow - bad as I got bills to pay... but good if I can get 7 pressed. Whether I've got the stamina for 500 litres yet is another matter, but a routine that starts with better quality apples and ends with 2 pressings a week would be good.
Turbo cider's going down well, tell thi...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

6 Pressed and on...

Why is it that you never get done what you plan to?
Having lost the morning (didn't rise at the crack of dawn mind...) to improving the scratter catchment. After elaborate plans for a fancy chute to deliver the scrats out to a bin, I settled on an easier hinge-top affair with an 'up position' support. All this to make fitting a collecting bin beneath a little easier, but with pulping and pressing batch 6, I just haven't had time to give it a proper trial... though I have got the sharps ready and weighed for the next batch, which puts me a tad in front for this week - all being well for an evening press mid week - fingers crossed.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Pause for thought:

Pooley and Lomax - Real Cidermaking on a Small Scale:
(clearly the authors are avid cider makers...)

page 6: 'The likelihood, however, of our sown pip ever yeilding a variety of any worth* is extremely small'

page 30:
' ...add a small ration of crab apples to the mix...'

clearly the first reference above refers to commercial worth, because tannin-rich apples from the hedgerow (or wherever those wildling pips find growing conditions...) are most 'worthy' indeed to the home producer!

Many of the 'crab' apples I use are most certainly from discarded apple cores, some of them certainly worthy enough for grafting for cider apples with a good balance of sugar, acid and tannin - get sowing!

(*italics are mine)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Thoughts on Scrumpy

It's quite impossible to buy apples and produce scrumpy. Only 'scrumped' apples can make scrumpy.
Scrumpy is definitely not a type of cider - nothing whatever to do with low tech production or cloudiness. The term relates to the origin of the apples from which the cider is made. It should be noted that smaller scale cider makers are more likely to produce scrumpy than the bigger producers who have records to keep!
Apples of any variety come under general rights of ownership. As every inch of the land is owned by someone somewhere, it follows that all that grows on the land is owned by someone somewhere, apples being no exception.
While ownership is clearly apparent in orchards with clear boundaries it is less so in hedgerows and wooded areas. No doubt roadside apples technically 'belong' to the Highways Agency, while those growing beside a field footpath 'belong' to the land owner.
It is thus this distinction of ownership that qualifies the production of scrumpy.
If a cider maker buys his/her apples or gains the owner's permission to use a tree's crop or collect windfalls, the scrumpy qualification is lost. However if there is no permission sought and the resulting fruit is turned into cider, it will be scrumpy.
In my opinion this is how the term came about - while scrumped apples are technically stolen apples they are more likely simply 'not missed', in that the landowner does not want them - he's not, or his agent has not, set out to profit from them.
This brings about an interesting situation, in that if he doesn't want them and you do, then so might someone else! Thus the confusion of ownership...
By way of example, I once had a gooseberry bush growing at the bottom of my garden. I should point out that in those days we lived in a long row of terraced houses... One year the gooseberry bush fruited rather well. Now I like my goosberries (delicious in a fool...) just turning yellow and so I decided to give them a day of two more to ripen. Come Friday off I sets with my colander to the bottom of the garden only to find NO goosberries - not a oner - all gone.
It seems someone else preferred them a little greener and whether a neighbour perhaps thought that I didn't want them or the birds got there first, I'll never know.
Thus it is with apples. Some growing locally fall late and as I'm busy dealing with the falling earlies they don't get early attention. One year I got a bit low on sweets and set off with my lettuce trays to find - LO - just one single solitary apple left alone on the tree! Someone had got to them first. It could have been a flock of starlings or it could have been a rival scrumper...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Whey hey!

Just racked a glassful out of the latest 'turbo cider'... this 5 litres was made from Aldi apple juice (3L) and some juice remaining after a pressing. Much more flavoursome than the 1st trial with Morrison's Value juice (the Aldi juice is a bit cheaper as I remember, but a tad sharper I thought) most likely for mixing it with the 2 litres of 'own' juice. It might be an idea to show people how to press a few pints with a couple of bits of plywood and hand cramps from a local bucket shop as the difference in flavour is quite dramatic. For anyone with access to winter crab apples this would give them quite a treat for minimal effort! By, it's heady stuff as well... looks like this batch won't make it to the bottle either...

bit cloudy mind...

some rescue work today - trying to de-ivy a local wild tree:

before the next customer provided a spot of lunch:

a glass of this 'ere cider would have gone down nicely...
If I hadn't got this turbo cider, I'd have been drinking lager now... think about it - well worth a few litres of apple juice, tell thi, 'get thissen gone'