Thursday, 29 December 2011

Fruitful Forage!

Back up the bank yesterday, grubbing about in the undergrowth... very much in public view, but there you go, story of my life... but I now have enough for a single variety - probably more with 25lbs. As time permits it'll be interesting to see what gravity they make.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Someone once said to me: 'Why make cider when you can buy it from Tesco?' My response being, of course - 'You can't buy what I make at Tesco.' Or anywhere else for that matter. What he meant was - why go to all that trouble to make something that you can buy so easily.
Indeed this philosophy can be applied to anything - consider for a moment the humble mince pie - the 'deep filled' off the shelf epitomising, in this scenario, the worst of 'industrial cider' perhaps.
I relate this because I hear it over and over again - this year from someone who was going to make their own, but got scrattings/pulp on the kitchen wall and gave up. Last year it was a similar tale from someone who had bought a press (£100 no less...) and gave up because he couldn't get the apples to juice.
I hate the expression 'it's not rocket science' but, trust me, if I can make cider, ANYONE can. But it don't make itself!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Seek & Find ye shall

They're in the undergrowth by now, but there's a-plenty. I only had time to get a carrier bag full which, if time permits, should get me up to 400 litres for this year but I would like to try and get enough for another small batch of single variety... oh yes - a good way to get to know your apples!

Birds and meeces haven't bothered with them but not twenty yards away is another (the one I'd intended on...) that must be more flavoursome to the wee beasties as very few remain unblemished.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hambleton Bard helpful yet again...

It's not necessary to have gas valves and such for cider but to ensure a good head of co2 I use an injector for the barrels of 'draught' (as 9, 16 & 17 of 2010 remain unbottled - 14 too up to last week where the last glass or two became a little cloudy as the lees were drawn through)
As Andrew Lea points out cider doesn't lend itself to barrel/keg conditioning under pressure, be it generated naturally by fermentation or introduced, but I find it useful to help get the cider out without introducing air via the tap which then passes up through the cider and any co2 'cover'. Without a little pressure the cap can be loosened as a partial vacuum develops but again this introduces air (though it doesn't 'glug' up through the contents this way and is preferrable) and will sit above the co2 'cover' (as the heavier than air video demonstration shows here)
So that's the 'long' of it - the 'short' of it being that a flying visit was in order for a refill.
As I've been doing some re-wiring of the garage electrics I was held up in discussion at ReCon Electrical (conveniently on the same industrial complex) on the best way to get electrics to the pond equipment... another story... and so it was dark and past closing time when I eventually remembered where Hambleton Bard's new premises were...
Clearly inconvenient, as the guy there was literally just coming out of the door ready to lock up and for many it would have been too much trouble, but no, 'no problem', said he, returning a few minutes later with a full co2 cartridge.
I post this as I've just revisited the site to see if they sell direct online yet (seems not) but the bag-in-a-box machinery video kicked off, which I thought was rather interesting... for wine kits you understand not cider, but one can dream...
(to see the video click on above HB link above and scroll down a tad)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Which reminds me...

Peter Fidler draws a blank, well, so far...
I have no idea who he is (or was) but a local nature reserve has been named after him, and a customer, who had recently walked there, told me of a crab apple tree - laden at that.
Last week gave me the opportunity to check this out... 200 yds in said he...
Maybe I took a wrong turn... but then down by the sewage plant LO - but crabs? NO.
Three sweets, within 20 yds or so - probably related - one clearly had cropped abundantly and the ditch and bank was littered. However, wildlings don't always make crabs with that mouth-puckering, face scrunching, cider-flavouring bitterness...
such is life

Wiser by the minute..?

'Growth in wisdom may be exactly measured by decrease in bitternes' - Nietzsche

Were it that simple...
- thing is, there's been a shortage of crab apples this year, for me at least, and so the last few batches have been mixed thus:

50;30;20 (%sweet;sharp;bitter)

- based on last year's batch 13 which turned out rather well.

Another cider weekend sees the addition of 11 and 12 in the kitchen (got to get some of that racked off!) Both batches making just 1.050.

Press was doing some creaking and groaning last night, but held yet again.
I need to do some hedge-bottom rummaging...