Monday, 31 December 2012

Looking ahead!

Never mind 'heave ho'... but at least I did manage to get the last full batch pressed leaving the pulping and pressing of the final 15 litres for tomorrow.
Pressing with the new 12 ton jack is yeilding around a litre more juice from the same amount of pulp - so I've got an extra 2 litres to add to the last 15.
25 and 26 both fermenting now and will need airlocks fitting tomorrow
Let's hope 2013 is a better year for apples ...though if it is I'll need to do some serious thinking....
cheers and all the best to all wherever you may be!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

New Year's Heave?

All remaining apples now scratted ready for a last big push tomorrow (unless something else crops up...) - oh, read: later today. The left-overs made 20.5 k or 15 litres worth which are largely bitter sweet, so will be an interesting taste when the time comes.
The motor caravan has become store for the unfermented batches (as well as the pre MC1 batch*) and I've got a small oil-filled radiator on to help coax 25 and 26 to start.
27 and 28 still in garage. A bit of head scratching to find somewhere to put these then there's tomorrow's...

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Mario Kart time...














... been watching this pint of John Downie, poured for the daughter's boyfriend, and it's still got a 'head' after 20 mins (now 1/2 hr) which is a tad unusual for cider.
Not very good at it myself - I keep going over the edge - but the cider is good!
Earlier the other Ampleforth Abbey cider was sampled - not good - medium... I should have left it at the Abbey and got 2 of the contract bottled instead. Mind you, it has all gone now...



















It's a bit 'spritzy' and the sleeve provided tends to suggest they've lost a few..?
Too sweet for me... Lec (D's boyfriend) is more used to commercial cider and found it more acceptable...

chaos here, but look - JD still got ring of 'head'...

Five Go~old Rings!

Q: How does Santa get a 12 tonne jack down the chimney?



















A: It's a mystery - we haven't even got a chimney (more's the pity, as an open fire would be nice...)



















Extraction rate goes up - the 20 litre container (top pic) has been hastily prepared to accomodate the extra juice (approx. 1 - 1.5 L?)
Batch 28 then makes 1.045, with next batch scratted ready and remaining fruit weighed - sufficient for just 15 litres (+?) - on target then for 850 litres.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Idleness sets in...

Just a few days off and the simplest of tasks become almost insurmountable - it's all down to the 'up there for thinking'...
Sweets and sharps prepared today for the last full batch, wearily it has to be admitted, and it's a good job I denied the moorhens some of their seasonal treats in the run up to the holidays as the 2 kilos gathered may just tip the balance to get 850 litres. I'm supposed to have quite a lot of some questionable swt/shps to the tune of 8.5k but in fact will be lucky if there's 2k left. The thing is remembering to adjust the figures for the remaining stock on every batch preparation...
There's also a few extra bits of fancy gear kicking around to try out...

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

'tis Indeed...

the season to be merry














apple midst holly
and not a single berry

good wishes to all!

(please remember to live responsibly)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Banished

- from the kitchen - from today. Called for a major reshuffle of available space and sort of stored empties - most time-consuming...
775 litres with tonight's - gravity not taken yet - also required re-stacking. Apples prep for next, then just one more full press to go. See what's left over then for final... should that be finale..? Should make 850 litres in all...

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sheer magnetism

allbeit electro... that's an electric drill for you. Clever stuff. Not so though when all the innards come out as you remove the cover... doh. At one point I thought I was going to have to take the cover off the other just to see how it all goes together... but the moulded base is lugged and it can only reassemble a certain way.
So, new brushes now fitted. Good as new, and next batch scratted ready for pulping tomorrow. For a budget brand of DIY drill at £20 they do well considering the pulper alone accounts for 17.5 hrs of use with over a tonne of apples so far processed.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Spoke too soon...

The drill powering the pulper packed up last night. Though I have 2 so I don't have to keep swapping from pulper to scratter, but the scratter one is the everyday drill and the bearing took a hammering from drilling the holes on the press and is sounding pretty rough.
The fault may yet turn out to be just worn brushes and I do have a set of new brushes, somewhere...
It's a wet one here today (now Thursday), so there may be time to sort it and a few other backed-up jobs.
After two consecutive nights of pressing I had one off last night. Last batch made 1.051 and puts me to 745 litres

Monday, 17 December 2012

Woefully inadequate..?

Just about describes my current set-up. Press needed a restack again tonight. At every pressing the remaining fruit gets that bit softer and that bit slippier. Blending the apples beforehand helps, as does applying pressure slowly, but the press cloths and solid boards are just not letting juice out efficiently. I've reached scrounger's limit!
Though having said that, it's nearly there on the next 30 litres with just another 4 pressings to go and there may be enough left for a part-pressing, maybe 20 litres.
Better get out there and give the jack a few more cranks...

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Small step. Giant leap?



















Defintitely more than 210 litres - more like 230-240(?) filled to just below the threaded section. 200 gms sugar added dissolved in hot water - scientific calculation? - hardly - it was all the caster sugar I could find, but should help keep it active. Make mental note: need better pump!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Both Barrels...

...back of the car.














I was lucky to get them into the car at all as they are bigger than anticipated and look much larger than the 210 litres described. (Net weight declared of original contents is 290 kg - begs the question: what's the difference between mango chutney and cider..?)
One's on its side on the kitchen floor with 2 gallons of sterilising solution and being rotated every 10 minutes.
That's it, final turn - two full rotations, should be well sweet enough for cider tomorrow now.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Leave it Alone!

One of the advantages of making more than you need ie. more than you consume (and give away of course) is that you have an opportunity to build up your 'cellar'. Thing is as the more mature stuff improves (and, oh boy, does it!) you find yourself reaching for the older stuff. For me this being 2010 (longest I've kept ever) of which a few boxes yet remain. But if I don't leave it alone it won't get to that magic triple vintage whereafter it reportedly enters decline. Avid followers will note that I am not a sulphiting fan and so it's interesting to note that there is no in-bottle degradation - in fact quite the opposite seems to be the case two years on...

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Pushing it...

getting towards the extreme end of comfortable now with my all-home-made basic set-up... Surprisingly nothing has broken this season but shh...
Tonight's pressing went a bit skewy and needed restacking, but got there in the end... bit inconvenient to say the least though to have to dismantle it all...
I'll do the gravity in the morning

Saturday, 8 December 2012

'Yes Sir, yes Sir...'

...three bags full...! Apples, not wool of course. I knew there were more, but didn't expect to get so many... I think the undergrowth must have died back a bit since 'last visit. Probably my closest 'true' cider apple - true in this sense as it's about as close as I can get - and there just might be enough for a single variety! Exciting, can't wait - scoff ye not...


Friday, 7 December 2012

'Them's good apples Pip me boy..'

...and that's what I thought yesterday. I'd already enquired after these (Golden Deli's), and so, over a month on, they were all over the lawn as I thought they might be... the customer had said he might want them, and the customer is always right... There were a few Bramley's as well... not that I need any, but then in the corner over there..? a small tree full of clingy reds - Spartan maybe... dunno but they all went in, making around 18 kilos in all. I left the ones the birds had started and a few more as well - there's a good few calories to help keep 'em going - Blackbirds skittering away in their alarmed fashion as they do...
Another pressing tonight... is that 600 litres now..? Losing count

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

'As I sit and close my eyes...'

I'm thinking of the Beach Boys' track 'Mean't for you' from the Friends album... meanies EMI have blocked the track on You Tube so I can't listen to it even though I bought the original, and possibly still have it somewhere (how much did they make out of that? - and how much did Brian and the Boys get...) though it's probably on a format I can no longer play anyway... and If I download it from I Tunes how much more will they make and how much more etc etc... not to mention Mike Love's cut..?
Anyway, as I sit and close my eyes with a pale greeny-golden batch 9 2011 (er, with errant bits stirred by a fine bottle-conditioned steadily rising mousse) I come to realise that I've yet to empty the press...

Ooo, just accidentaly caught the spell check button - turns out that 'EMI,' along with 'er' and 'greeny', don't exist anyway...
so then 575 litres - most ever for me... yesterday's made 1.050... though at 4 deg c juice temperature, probably more like 1.049 - as if I care? Do I look bothered..? Is grass green? - not always...

back shortly...


hmm, well got a bit side-tracked there... what with the Wrecking Crew and Leonard Cohen...

dargh, press boards washed but still forgot to take the gravity...

back presently...

brr, it's got that biting cold damp feel out there - I reckon allowing for the 4.5 deg c (does the friction of pressing warm the juice..?) it's 1.049 - same

that's me done, cheers.

Monday, 3 December 2012

cidre nouveau?

So then, yesterday's pressed tonight...
As the fruit hangs around, the sweets get more prone to slippage in the press. Making do with plywood press boards doesn't help - and the 'new' varnish coating is quite smooth - just have to take a little longer in applying pressure, so I've been dodging in and out to the garage as the crap acts have come on the Variety Show (Royal non less) [with a bit of Facebook banter in between...] - speaking of which it might be on the cards to create a lightweightmick's Cider Group - doh
Er yeah, just grabbed some of this year's which is coming on nicely - cider nouveau... should that be cidre nouveau? Quite pleasant... in fact (sips) very very nice!
Oh happy days...

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The appliance of science?

Thinking on today (it's a dangerous pursuit but all you can do when dressing apples repeatedly) - it's the 'scientific approach' that has led us down the industrial cider path...
Keep it stupid simple I say. I read earlier today that cider making is very complicated... well it isn't, and never was. It's as complicated as you want to make it. The slippery slope of sulphite...
It's a tad disheartening to sample 'craft ciders' that should never have left the cider house, perhaps made by those who seek complication..? Of course I don't know the half of it... only been making it since 1976 - cheers - dash! glass is empty...

Beat...

just enjoying a pint of last year's batch 5 and reflecting on the day...
Been bloomin' cold out there today sorting apples. Oh, to have better quality fruit! but "yer 'as to have wot you can gets..." After tea it was gone eight and I must admit, after being out in the cold all afternoon, I hadn't got enough left to face going back into the cold to press the next batch. It's so much easier just to tip nice clean apples into the weigh tub... but it's coming to an end as I catch up with the better quality stuff - as it is today has seen the scratting and pulping of the next batch which should get pressed tomorrow, and the sweets for the following batch...
So 25 litres down on schedule tonight and time's running out...

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Marathon des Sables?

...no, ...marathon des apples. It's all down now to going through all the stock and weeding out all suspect apples.. plan is to press twice on Sunday. Sweets prepared for tomorrow at least and after work first 6k of the sharps. There is certainly an underlying kind of weariness... and that reminds me I haven't taken the gravity of  last night's yet --- I reckon 1.051*. It was quite mild, but now it's turned pretty damn cold and aluminium ladders come into their own as do apples. Mind you a bucket of hot water helps in both cases - day job and hobby.

*actually lower, in fact lowest this season at 1.046

Monday, 26 November 2012

1.050..?

...well that's 500 litres. It's a lot for me when every single apple passes at least twice through my own grubby mitts! Got some more of those sweets (as yesterday) - when I finished work it wasn't quite dark, so there's another 13 kilos to add - more to be had too, but the quality is suffering now and I got enough for around 800 litres anyway. My thinking is that I'll cross bridges when I come to them... see what I can turn out... for no other reason than I can really...
The pint of 2010 batch 12 is going down well... tell thi...

[later]
Tch, just done the press boards... what did I forget to do..? Off we go again...

[later still]
To be honest I've a job reading the bloomin' thing... though after much squinting and closing of one eye... then the other, I make it: dah dah - 1.048 (+/- a gnat's cock - or crane fly's...) which is interesting, merely because it's different...
The hydrometer is something of an introduction the clean end of the 'business'...
One guy, having lent me his wheelbarrow a few years back sampled one of the apples I came across his lawn with. He took a bite out of one apple and decided against chucking it back into the barrow as he'd taken a bite and maybe thought he'd somehow 'contaminated' it, saying, 'You'll not want this one now.' He tossed the rest of the perfectly good fruit into the trees as I replied: 'It's all right. You could piss on 'em and it wouldn't make any difference.' The freebie that you don't get with beer...

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Yay...

more sweets in... over 43 kilos, with another bag (13.5 k) of some that I can't remember whether they're sweets of sharps... Needing more containers now... tonight's pressing (25 litres) is into an ex citric acid container - and is still in the press as it's struggling to get the last litre or so. Should be there on next check... better do that next as it's about bed time now...
Well that's that - I'll wash the boards down in the morning - another 1.050 as near as damn it. I'd got the next batch pulped ready which will make 500 litres but out of time tonight. You just can't be out collecting apples and pressing juice... still, a good day!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Miss Identified

I've had some troublesome Misses in my time - usually it's Miss Adventure... Miss Fortune... the list goes on, but this be bitchy! The expected sweets collected last Sunday to the tune of 21 kilos turned out to be sharps... and my little hastily scribbled apple map from around 5 years back (when first discovered) does indeed show them as sharps... so tomorrow becomes the new 'last big push' as I'm down on sweets now... it's stressful...

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Cat's Eyes



















15 pressed tonight - 1.050...
4 batches racked this afternoon, making room for 4 incoming - note thermometer - stays around 17 degrees in the kitchen. Incoming juice at far end as this end (nearest camera) is the door end - being somewhat cooler

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dressing apples..?

(no, not like peg dolls...) More attention is to be expected at this time of year - birds (deep pecking), rot (brown is good, black is not), overly deep bruising, slug holes, wireworms (can affect long standing windfalls), grubs (though more common in early windfalls), mud, sliminess (harmless but unappealing), deep cracks... Windfall fruit will more likely need washing too.
It has to be said, I'm a reluctant washer - for me this entails filling a bucket with water, adding a few kilos of apples and tipping from one bucket to another a few times, or more, depending - a pot brush then for removing any stubborn mud - but in fact all you're doing is diluting any 'contamination'. Once you start with the knife though it becomes a 'labour of love' and as you go on with fruit after fruit you can find yourself trimming quite unnecessarily...
One of these years I swear I'm going to press all the timmings - just out of interest you understand - pound to a penny, the resulting cider would be no different... if not better..?

Ah...

It's all too easy to lose track of what it's all about... being the 'dirty end' of the business at this time of year - but sitting down to a glass of last year's bottled conditioned brings it all into focus! Ah...

'Manic Street...'

Hurried management of the spreadsheet meant I'd entered an incoming batch of sweets twice... which now leaves me 4.5 kilos down on that 750 litre target... though good news is I'm up on sharps and bitters. With a bit of luck I should be able to get some more sweets in yet though... hmm, see there's the graveyard yet - still some on there and the golf course is worth another visit - and then there's that field...
Someone commented yesterday that I look tired...

Monday, 19 November 2012

Last big push..?

Being ahead of schedule (sounds like work dunnit?) and having pulped the apples for batch 14 yesterday (Sunday) morning I had the afternoon for a sortie - heading back for the newly 'found' trees.
It would be a long and tedious post to list all ports of call, but it's still worth parting the fallen leaves. The birds are turning to the fruit now as part of their seasonal diet and I always try and leave some for them - a kind of unwritten Country Code - 'fasten all gates' ...and leave some for the birds...
Long story short then I returned with 99.4 kilos from, ooo, lets see... [counts] eleven trees - so it's getting thinner. All up I got enough fruit for 750 litres and about run out of space... thing is, where the hell am I going to store it all..?
14 pressed last night made - you guessed: 1.050 - beginning to wonder if my hydrometer's sticking...

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Batch 13... Apollo 13...

Got there in the end but it was a bit fraught... the 2.5 tonne jack just isn't up to it, which is a shame as it's certainly tall enough but it just hasn't got enough umph, so I discarded it in favour of the 6 tonne Clarke to get the last few litres, otherwise I'd still be in the bloomin' garage...
Batch 10 is now underway after a spell in the emergency 'warm room' (the toilet compartment in the motor caravan with 800 watt oil filled heater set on low) - I always get a bit nervous if they don't get underway in a few days and the kitchen (pretty constant min 15 deg C) is at max allowed capacity at 240 litres (8x30) and it is, I would be willing to admit, something of a stumbling block to using bigger containers for me as I'm used to the 'portability factor', that said some 220 litre containers are on the cards.... more space would be nice...

footnote:
the Apollo 13 connection is a bit tenuous of course (the element of superstition)  - I was watching the documentary examining just how real the events were depicted in the film starring Tom Hanks on the aborted mission... turns out no one actually said: 'Houston, we have a problem' - something similar, but they went with it as it had more impact...
my batch 13 just didn't behave in the cheese stack - if it's not 'all square' it can push the press boards sideways - in a 'worst case scenario' juice then misses the tray and has to be restacked. Relieving the pressure and whacking them back into line with a brick hammer and block of wood is the easier alternative (as in this case)

Turns out it always good to have a roll of Gaffa tape just in case though...

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Oh and...

...yes - Ampleforth again, I forgot to say: they don't sulphite their juice and allow only natural yeast present for fermentation, though do correct the original gravity with sugar - the cloudy stuff is 8.3%

Make cider - meet interesting people!

Once again in passing... a site I've passed many times. This time I saw a guy on the drive that appeared attached to the land with the apple tree. Turns out he planted the site as he liked to make damson jam for his friends and included some apple trees. The one bearing fruit he thought was a Bramley, but on tasting didn't seem acidic enough, so I filled an onion sack as he said I could help myself. He then came across and suggested his neighbour across the road had trees and he would introduce me... I'd found a small bottle of cider in the car - probably destined for someone who hadn't been in - anyway, he seemed taken up with this and off we went... me pulling a kind of garden trailer he suggested I should take. Eventually a very old lady came to the door, and quickly established that I could have all the apples... First up a dual purpose very much like the first tree spotted over the road with far too many windfalls to collect... and more interestingly other trees still bearing fruit, with many windfalls in various states of decay and bird pecked. Noting four trees in all, with fruit needing panking I declared it better to return better equipped... meanwhile a carrier bag had been quickly filled. Back over the road, it transpired that the guy is a collector of vintage cars! Four, with another Bentley up on a ramp... one being a 1926 Buick -'straight out of Al Capone', he told me, and a 1500cc Riley (no modding allowed) that the guy had built from only the chassis (alu covered timber frame) and had been Hill Trialing in the Lake District only the week before!
In all 6 new trees and fruit to go back to...
I'd gone that way to pass the roadside crab that had provided so many last week - though short of bags, I was able to muster 2 carriers of the crabs (over 17 k)... after another few paying jobs (it was soon to get dark by now...) I called at the prolific sharp cropper to gain another 30k, so all in all a total of over 70 kilos to add to the stock.
I might get to 700 litres at this rate, though time is running out...

Monday, 12 November 2012

Tall story...

With the newly lowered press plate now in place (a bottle of cider secured loan of a collection of files) it's now possible to use the taller high-lift twin ram jack - could do with more umph though as it's only rated at 2.5 tonnes. The built-in gate valve designed to prevent overload means getting the last of the juice takes a bit longer too...
The wooden top sliding beam is a temporary solution until a steel one is fabricated and suitably large springs are procured. The bungee cords do offer a partial return and hold the beam up which saves taking it out at every pressing.



Batch 12 pressed yesterday (pictured) makes 1.050 - at least the OG remains largely consistent!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What did you do?

I'll tell you what I did... (can't believe it really...)
As I've been given a bigger jack for the press, and as it wouldn't fit on top of the cheese/cheeses, I've drilled holes for the bottom 'carrier' 4" lower than the existing... all well and good..?
Well it would be if I'd marked out nice and square... Don't know whether I've marked out wrong, or popped 'em (centre punched) wrong but they ain't square - one angles slightly up and the other down... so under pressure will have the effect of twisting the bottom carrier.
right bollocksing pigs ear... so now all I can do is revert to some tweaking with a file... too disheartened to do any pics yet. Steel is so unforgiving and the hardest part is marking out, especially as I've only got a shit square, rusty pitted steel and no scribe... (and certainly no engineers blue!)
What's the saying about a poor workman and his tools..?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Well Chuffed...

... because the wildling visited today has much more fruit than I'd gauged!
















It's one of the better cider apples I've found with a certain 'vintage quality' all of its own. I was expecting to gather just around a half bag, but came away out of time with two and a half with more to come yet.












On the scales - 34.5kg (76 lbs)

I also took the opportunity to cut through more of the thick ivy strangling the trunk that would surely be starving the tree of nutrients, light and air. Pretty sure I felt the tree sigh with relief... I've done a bit of work on this tree before - could be my fancy, but the fruit seems more plentiful and generally somewhat larger...

Well, batch 11 pressed tonight and I've yet to wash down the press boards - best get on...

later:
press boards now washed down - I forgot, I also needed to take the gravity of 11which turned out unsuprisingly to be 1.050. On 2nd glass on John Downie which tends to keep a bit of a head, that after a while forms a ring that clings to the side of the glass.

I also picked up some sharps today (6.7k) and 1 small tree of sweets - just 5 apples making just 900gms.
(Yesterday's stash -all sharps- came in at 38k! and there's loads more yet, though I've more than enough sharps now to make that 600 litre target...)
I think that's about it for today...

'It's After Mid...night...'

and this is what happens if you drink too much cider...



'...all I need is a hopper on this end', lol

Sick as a dog..?

"...after all, beer and cider don't mix."
I'm quoting the guy at Cropton Brewery here. On the one occasion I did mix them I was indeed most unwell... as to the saying, I can't say I've obseved a dog in the process but I can sure as hell testify to cats giving it a good old 'honking up' on a regular basis.
Of course the above quote is a final testament to a failed business venture - after all, apple trees by the acre don't come cheap, but there is truth in the statement and I'm always very quick to correct those who talk of cider as a good brew...
Pedantic..? Not at all.

Monday, 5 November 2012

more Ampleforth...


















(ps. the beer is made under contract by The Little Valley Brewery and is dark and tasty...)

...back to earth, batch 10 (2011) is almost gone:















and sweets and sharps prepared today for this year's batch 11

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Back to Ampleforth

 Back to Tom who's running the shop until sufficient apples come in for another pressing as they've pressed all of their own this year. More cider purchased including a litre of the cloudy stuff.
Lastingham was well worth the visit - quick lunch up by the Lion Inn (I'd forgot to put kettle in Panda, so no cuppa... plenty of gas for the little portable stove, got water mugs tea bags, but no kettle or anything else to heat water in...) then off for quick recce of where the Lyke Wake Walk meets the road near Fat Betty - as another Coast to Coast attempt could be on for next year... (this time using the LWW as a more direct route over the moors)

Next up the remains of the tower and steps at Rosedale Abbey, which is all that remains of the Priory,

















before doubling back to Cropton to learn the sad news...


Still, plenty of cider to chose from tonight!

Edit:
In the end though, settled on a pint my own - this is 2010 batch 18:



















(...and enjoying a glass of cider in the van in the evening reminds me why I began bottling it...)

cheers!

Cropton - big split...

Turns out the cider guy has done a runner... No more Yorkshire Cider - the newly planted orchard wasn't a success as planned it seems. Rather sad really I think. As I recall West Country varieties were planted on a 5 acre site and if someone doesn't take an interest in the project  it'll be gone for good...

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ampleforth Abbey Cider...














...is pretty damn good cider! I passed on their cloudy eastern counties style when told it was medium sweet... settling for the contract bottled (in Cumbria) clear (filtered) medium dry at £3.25 per 500ml - a very nice easy drinking cider with vintage qualities:


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Crayke

With such an old van you can never be certain you're going to get there... It's nearly stopped raining here - on hardstanding at least, so won't get stuck.
Geared up for monks and cider tomorrow!
Just reminded myself why I started bottling my cider - tastes better in the caravan when away somehow...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

300 after all!

With the weather taking a turn for the worse - again - I decided to press on...
Towing eyes in place too - just hope the weather forecast improves... not recovered from traipsing round Furness Abbey in the pouring rain yet still...
 













they needed to shore up one side of the ruin and found a whole bishop in the process complete with  bling!














oh, and batch 10 makes 1.051

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Keeping 'em coming

From one job to next, stop at Andy's Farm 14.3 k sweet... take a look at some others enroute - high up, beyond panking ( I need a longer pole...) and none's come off...

And so it was about dark when I finished work... 1st up, back to those no.4's about 3m away - all on headtorch, scratting about in the grass down the golf course. Surprising how many are left yet though... no idea whether there's any left on the tree... (11.7 k) - only ever seen the tree once in daylight lol
Next up the sweets, with some shaking down got 8.5 k. - need to return in at least some light with pole...
Then it occurred that it could be a good opportunity to try to find another that I'd learned of some years ago but never got round to looking for... it's all on video, cursing an' all... suffice to say drew a blank (0 k)
Def on for 600 litres now... unless some serious rot sets in...

Ampleforth trip...

...planned for Friday. Van takes some sorting... water on board... have we got enough gas? Last run was up to Cumbria - Furness Abbey, Peel Island - end of August... didn't take in any cidermakers on that one. Cleared out all the cidermaking stuff last night, but have 3*30 litre fermenters in the garage yet (7,8&9) which is a bit cold to get fermemtation firmly underway now... could do with getting those into the kitchen...
Should have time for a run up to Cropton Brewery (Yorkshire Cider) and include a visit to the undercroft at Lastingham...
need to put the towing eyes onto current-use Panda though yet, so not much chance of making the 300 litre mark beforehand.
Came back with a good few apples yesterday - (42k - with still more on trees) which should see me up to 600 litres this year.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Bubbling around...

It's been bubbling around the back of my mind for a good few years now...
See, if one of my favourite crabs comes down, it's lost forever. What I need to do is take scions and preserve what I find. The only way to do this is by grafting of course, something I've tried but failed at... largely for not using some form of grafting wax and only tape which don't offer enough seal. I've probably done it too late in the season too. I need to invest a bit of time learning how to do this as it looks pretty straight forward on You Tube...
The idea is to plant new stock clandestinely near to where current trees are or other suitable locations - ie. not too far away from car parking as even 25 kilos of apples can take some time to hump back to the car, especially as I'm getting a bit 'long in the tooth'...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Golf Links no.4

... in fruit, which is good. A hard little bullety bitter sweet - ended up on headtorch gathering some sweets not a hundred yards away. Trouble is it was mild and wet and flying things get attracted by the bright LED...
Wednesday was wet too - time to check out some reported wild trees. First one, which I tried to find last year, without success... bore one solitary apple - small red and... wait for it, sweet... doh...
Next up a reported abandoned orchard amid trees - no sign of any apples or trees...
then off to where I knew there were apples - sweets and plenty of them. Took an hour to collect 37 kilos though as brambles and nettles all about - ouch! Then off to another reported crab on an entry road to a supermarket. Found this one straight away - two small green fruits - not bad in the dark... alas the two apples were the only ones...

Yesterday lunchtime - former railway now trail - went in search of sweets (loads last year that I didn't need...) this year none according to old chap coming the other way. He did tell me of two crabs in fruit beside a nearby fishing pond which I did find... on bitter swt other bitter shp - side by side. A guy told me of another wild, but was too far away, but noted... then another dog walker pointed me to 2 more wild trees... which again I managed to find - both in fruit, but out of time really by now to do much... still they'll be added to my own Google Apple Map!

Batch 8 pressed - not taken gravity yet suspect it'll be 50 or maybe slightly more...
Last night tried some Medieval Cider made by a local who I met at the garden fete back in June - no pressing involved, chopped apples steeped in water with quite a lot of added sugar methinks - more like applewein... very much like Eastern Counties style in flavour.
that's all for now


Thursday, 25 October 2012

It's all go...

Find apples/get apples... sort apples... wash apples... scrat apples... pulp apples... press apples.
Not to mention gravity and racking early batches that have finished fermenting...
Cidermaking can be largely repititious...

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Local Graveyard...















after dark...
Between the headstones grows this delightful little sweet apple. Hard to show in the dark but it's laden with fruit! I'd seen the crop driving past (I know where to look!) and decided to check it out on headtorch. The fruit are smaller but more plentiful this year. I'll try and get a daytime pic.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Up there fo' thinking






The quest continues...

...the crab apple tree I had in mind was sadly without fruit - a local dog walker told me of this one nearby. No evidence of fruit on the ground, and these babies were a good 30 feet up!  Beyond panking... the guy had said they were 'well up' and suggested I get my ladders off... and lean 'em against what?
Later some roadside bitter sharps (windfalls 10k), bitter sweets (mainly windfalls 1.5k) and 14k of some poor quality sweets that took a while with the panking pole

"Where did you get that hat..?"

... Aldi - £2.99. Is it a nobby one and just the proper style? No, not really... Thing is, it's getting a bit nippy out there and I get this curious earache and couldn't find not one of many... So, any roadup, now it's getting a bit cooler the trays of apples will need less sorting, particularly the windfalls.

For most of his life my father worked at a local old people's home (that's what they were called back then... well the residents were old people...) - originally he was the gardener - long story short, one day he turned up with an old gramaphone and a stack of 78's from one ot the residents - among which were some Stanley Holloway records. I'd be around ten years of age and took great delight in winding up the gramaphone and listening to the old scratchy recordings. Here's the one I had in mind with the title:

http://youtu.be/J4Kuu-FnB20

not forgetting:

http://youtu.be/tVTx44kdMbk

' "Nay, nay, Geordy love, shut thy face!" said the Queen...'

very subtle, lol

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Saturday, 13 October 2012

"I close my eyes..."

... and see apples, apples apples. Not had a dream of being an apple tree yet this year though...

Just knock and ask - today that tactic landed 32 kilos of an interesting sharp/sweet. Been passing this tree for years and finally plucked up the courage to go and ask in the week - my panking pole needs to be a good few feet longer though as I couldn't reach the top ones - worth calling back for the last windfalls... or maybe get the ladders off... next up the former coal washing plant - some nice sweet russety types - plenty more here yet too. I reckon somebody beat me to one of the wild bitter sweet that I went to on Thursday - got soaked in the pouring rain grubbing about in the undergrowth, but 13A made up for it...
Batch 5 scratted earlier ready for pulping and pressing tomorrow.. if I can keep the fruit flowing  there could be 500 litres this year maybe...

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Scrumpy Mick...

Bittersweets this time...


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Keep 'em coming...

Over 30 kilos added to stock today - these are wild sweets (12.4 k) from 2nd 'scrump' of the day and needed a lot of nettles and undergrowth cutting back to harvest. The nettle stings are subsiding now...
This morning, more sweets - windfalls - an easier catch but need washing as horses graze the field. Luckily they've been taken to other grazing as they'd just clean up... the field has five trees all bearing fruit and plenty of it!
There's plenty more out there yet.
Tonight a pint of 2010 batch 13A (a blend) is going down well - surprisingly well in fact!
Cheers!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Productive day

for me at least...

40 kg apples ready for scratting:














modified hopper on pulper:
















... cut-off top of a 20 litre HDPE vegetable oil container - needed a little tweaking with a blowlamp to make the opening a little bigger though bits get into the hollow handle but it's not a great problem. It still vibrates enough to shake the scrats down and the one tie wrap provides sufficient support. It did part company with the cut off ice cream tub connecting tube today though, so maybe another strategic tie wrap..?
Batch 3 now in - making 1.050 again.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Deddington...

...doh, must be that southern accent. Though, or course, for me, now, it'll always be a 'Dunnington'...

Monday, 1 October 2012

Dunnington Picking

I got the idea from the guy who discovered and named the Dunnington Pippin. On the TV programme Apples:British to the Core (sadly not available to viewers abroad, nor to me anymore since she deleted it from Sky Planner... though just learned from a Google search it's due to be shown again...) On the show the guy is seen removing an apple with a long pole with a cut-off lemonade bottle stuck on the end. Simple but effective!

Though this is a cordial bottle which wasn't quite big enough for the sharps at hand - the tree is a big one for an apple tree:









It seems to work better with a notch cut in:

... which has worn bigger as seen in this pic.







There's still plenty of fruit out there - though I was spotted scrumping by the farmer's wife! Mind you, she is a customer...
























Cheers!

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fruitful Forage:

Being low on sharps I set off today with a plan...
mind you I did forgot to stock up on the various bags etc. another doh...
In lean years the secret is to do your reccy's early and I knew there was fruit waiting.
Long story short, I returned some 2hrs later with 60kg of sharp and sweet
Last call was a tree I'd found some years back but rarely used (wild sharps seem a little rarer that sweets for some reason...) anyway it's here I regretted not stocking up on bags or trays as half of the bags had holes from previous forays. So I cut back the brambles, ferns and nettles... (yeah the fern is an interesting one... that's former railways for you - I think they must get carried along like Rosebay Willow Herb?) ...ready for more foraging in due course, one call was to Wilko's for another tin of water-based polyurethane varnish and another was to claim a refund from Tesco where I was charged £30.40 for a 70 pence loaf of bread yesterday! Anyroadup, that's all for now, though I did take some pics - including the Dunnington Picker in action!

Meanwhile I think this is the video I had in mind:

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Here we go!

eh, now the video post icon has disappeared..? Just not my day...
ah... that's 'cos I was in HTML mode. Right...
this just might work... for what it's worth, but this is after setting up the scratter last week:



and pulping (sadly as yet a second process for me to get the right porridge like consistency):


... apologies for the low presentational skills...

aw bollocks, that's the wrong video... ha ha. Never mind, we see progress!
I haven't really got the hang of holding the phone without prematurely halting recording... tch.

anyroadup, Friday's sweet addition to the stash turned out to be a cracking 52 kg. Now if I could turn up 52kg every day...
I need to get my hands on some sharps next! Though I have done a little homework this year, but it has to be noted a couple of my regulars are totally without fruit. This year I've needed to dig a little deeper as it were and there's no doubt there's ample fruit out there if you invest a bit more time, though you can never be sure that someone else will have beat you to it in the scrumping game!
Last Saturday, around dusk, I was harvesting a local crab with my Dunnington picker*, when I realised the owners were stood not 10 ft away checking me out! As it happens I'd sought permission some 4-5 yrs back and this stood me in good stead. A local surgeon (I think) owns the tree that overgrows the roadside and he was fine about me taking the apples once we'd established contact and I'd reintroduced myself... he also gave me permission to enter his garden to collect fruit that falls onto his property. His tree is a good regular cropper (for a bitter sweet) though tend to be 'grubby' - cidermakers can live with grubs though.
I've also tracked down 2 other good crops of bitter sweet this year - I can't see the bitters being a problem this year if I can get to 'em 1st that is...

* I'm overdue for a post on this remarkable little device!

bedtime for me now though... at least the Herpes Varicella Voster virus seems to be on the losing end now... yeah, I reckon I've turned a corner...








Fingers Crossed...

All very well but vitually made cider tastes of air... here goes though.
In the real world I've varnished another press board (more on this if time permits) and weighed some of the incoming fruit from Friday (all sweets)

Picture the scene:



looks promising already... all I've done after trawling for advice is to run the raw vid through MS Movie Maker and saved it at a lower resolution - tch, all this trouble and the vids so far are crap anyway...

Yo,
amazing...
so Bow Bridge via You Tube, here's same vid direct  to Blogger - hey, don't try running b4 you can walk lol

video

is it me or is the 1st a bit clearer..?

trying again

...tame experts have 'wised up'. There are techies and slow learners...

via You Tube - embedding shouldn't be a problem - I was hoping to save time
Laugh out loud indeed.
so then You Tube tell me it's shaky and are fixing that for me...

'We've fixed the shakiness in your video' Do I want to keep it? YOU BET:


...just look at those medieval stone arches... such an idyllic scene...
I'm on it.

you'd think it would come up with: 'Hey, your video is shit - it doesn't work for a start.'
- perhaps, 'It's a bit shaky but this is the  least of your worries...'
or maybe just plain old: 'Wrong format'
thing is, it's not, it's MPEG4.
Maybe I need to dance around a few standing stones for a bit...

Friday, 28 September 2012

If at first you don't succeed

video

post a nice relaxing short film of Bow Bridge near Furness Abbey...

listen to the nice running water and the merry 'tweet tweet'
(patience is not a virtue it's a bloody necessity!)

What's going on..?

Turned out the press cloths were in a pillow case in the airing cupboard... confusingly 3 were in the garage in a bag. This was down to a last small 5 litre pressing of that single variety (which turned out very nice...) But it's better to have a well organised tidy up at the year end, so everything is to hand when you need it... however that, generally speaking, has not been the story of my life so far...
I managed to hump the new steel press into the garage on Sunday, which was a tight fit through the doorway as when I measured the height I forgot to account for the 1" of the bottom of the steel door frame... doh.
Looking like I've been hit by a bus at present as I've had an outbreak of shingles. A first for me, and it makes you feel a bit out of sorts, however a late pressing last night produced Batch 1 which has made 1.050 - (1st batch last year made 1.051), so all's coming together.
I've had to make a temporay top sliding beam to support the jack for now and the 1st press proved a little disappointing yield-wise. For 45kg (99lbs) of pulp I could do with a few more press cloths and it took all this to fill the 30 litre fermenter and the pulp didn't come out like compressed cardboard and was quite moist. With the old wooden press I could tilt it to encourage juice run-off, but the steel thing's going nowhere!
I got some videos which I managed to get from phone to laptop via 'Zune'...(?) but for the life of me can't work out how to get them from there to the blog... all good fun...

video



Friday, 21 September 2012

Progress to report

Been without tinterweb thingy for a few weeks (or eeks)...
So things are going off here, new press almost complete, so a pic is due... all I need is some space in the garage - in there today - and have enough apples for a pressing. Can't find bloomin' press cloths anywhere though... durgh...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

'One has to sip one's cider...'

- for 'tis too strong for quaffing at 7.5%. I'm referring to batch 2 the John Downie single variety.
'One has to sip one's cider... one has to stick one's little finger out...'

meanwhile -
this is my no1 cider fan's 1956 Landrover:



Tony has owned this series 1 for 50 years!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

3:4:5 - 'tis good - 'twas good

Well I had a pic of laying out the frame but just lost it...

As I've only got a old engineer's square I fell back on a bit of Pythagorus - all good in principal but tricky to get right with a sliding steel rule... still, best of a bad job and the four bolts are in now securing the top beams to the uprights...

Er, two cock ups though:
1st was relying on one of the existing holes in the section - oops, too tight to get a socket on. Though not an insurmountable problem it would have been prudent to have given a bit more brain before the brawn...
2nd was marking one hole wrong - then even worse, drilling it to 12mm. If I'd checked it at pilot size I could have saved a lot of messing...
fair does, it's a long time since I got a grade 1 in metalwork and only GCSE at that!

Ah well, cider time... the very last bottle of 2010's Batch 7 - unless I've missed a box...

Monday, 6 August 2012

More trees...

As it came on to rain again last week a local told me about some crab apple trees he'd remembered seeing. Rained off as I was I ventured down the lane and onto the footpath as advised. Sure enough, in the hedgerow apple leaves in abundance, but sadly no apples. Making my return I noticed a few trees bearing fruit off to my left in an overgrown field - surely the remains of an orchard and found I counted 7 trees with fruit. Too large to be crabs, but an interesting find nontheless and well worth the soaking from the long wet grass.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Progress is slow

though any progress is good...

So, all steel cut to length for new steel press frame. It came on to rain later but I stuck with it...




A & B are top beams, C & D lower beams. E is the lower support cross beam - F being the leftover to make a sliding upper beam.


The observant will notice that there is no provision for 'legs' to hold the setup upright... Unfortunately relations with the customer who supplied the steel took a turn for the worse (win some, lose some - get punched by just the one so far in 36 years of day job...), so I need to find some bits from somewhere to make some legs/stands...
The idea is to bolt it all together rather than weld, to help keep the whole thing more portable. Marking out to keep it square will be down to careful measurement...
Dimensions: Overall height: 6'2" Internal width: 33"
Lower crossbeam intended to be adjusable for height.
Fingers crossed as I ain't no engineer!

Friday, 27 July 2012

South folk Vs. North folk...

Grand cider tasting under a setting moon (and awning) in Norfolk.

On offer, Castlings Heath cider in the left corner facing Crones in t'other...



...bit of a loaded contest really as Tom Norton's (in the Suffolk corner) has a distictive whisky edge to it...

unsure which one this is though...


Many thanks to Tom for his detailed directions to the cidery - did take some finding mind (though he did tell me to ignore the right turn on the bend...), but well worth it! Also to Tom's family for putting up with us... Hope they enjoyed the sample of the Derbyshire cider I left with them! Not forgetting - their elderflower and apple juice cider was most refreshing on such a hot day too - I only got a splash as I was driving and she inside claimed the rest!

Gaymer's and Banham...

Taken in Norfolk shortly after buying a bottle of Crones 'Special Reserve' 7.4% ABV - from the local Londis opposite Banham Zoo - (Banham being the original home of Gaymer's) - I remember their cider well... Olde English, Norfolk Dry, Dry Blackthorn - all were available in my local offie... (off licence) around 39p a bottle back then! ie. circa 1975...

Thursday, 19 July 2012

On the Trail

I'd remembered doing a walk many years ago (I thought 20...) along a former colliery railway and coming across a bountiful carpet of crab apples - impressed as I was I noted in my walks log (...it was in fact a mere 11 yrs ago): 'saw crab apple tree on this walk' = for italics read heavily underlined...
Yesterday, as it came on to rain, I spent an extended lunch break trying to find the tree, which is a little beyond my 'comfort range' - this being around 10m radius of home. Having taken a wrong turn - kids and road signs and all that... I eventually came to the car park at the trail end.

On the trail:



did find this wild plum or damson though:




Of course I was hoping to find evidence on the tree... no such luck! Though I did encounter a couple walking their dogs who remembered seeing such a carpet as well... and as a bonus the guy told me where to look for another tree at the far end of the trail. By the time I'd got back to the car and driven to the far end they had arrived there with their two happy spaniels. As I walked towards them, sure enough on my left I passed a good-sized tree bearing fruit. Meeting them again the guy then told me of another tree he'd remembered from years before and I walked with them to a former quarry where sure enough, set back from the trail, was another tree bearing somewhat larger green fruit - sharp as he remembered...
A bit off-hand, but none the less, a useful recce perhaps.

The moral to the tale: a little local knowledge is a good thing!

cheers: