Monday, 19 September 2011

Apple Avalanche Leads To Cider Tsunami

All those lovely apples, which are hanging off the trees at this time of year, need to be picked over the next month and stored away in your sheds and outhouses. They will keep for several months if wrapped in newspaper or otherwise prevented from touching each other.

Uncle Lozzer - Chief Chopper

I’m fortunate enough to have an old Apple Store, which is a kind of skeleton chest of drawers. My son and I eat a lot of apples but we do not intend to be buying any from the shops this year; this year’s harvest should see us through to about March with any luck.
Chopped Apples Ready For Smashing

There are still lots of apple trees laden with ripe fruit though and if we do not use them, they will only go to waste. It makes perfect sense to crop now and make good use of fruit in any way we can; making cider out of apple juice preserves it very well and it is a very satisfying process…

Children Crushing The Pre-Chopped Fruit - Hard Work But Fun

It is also a very simple process but this does not mean that there is no hard work to be done; I had set an ambitious target of Five Gallons of Juice because that is the capacity of my barrels. So we needed to process about 50-60Kgs (3 builders bucketsful) of apples and that is an awful lot of chopping, smashing and pressing.

Actually, This Looks/Tastes More Interesting

Fortunately, I had the help of my two enthusiastic children, who enjoy smashing things anyway and love apple juice. Their Uncle Loz was on hand to lend essential extra muscle and to expertly wield the very sharp knife.

Darn Those Pesky Kids, I know I'm Going To Ache Tomorrow

After a fairly short while of pulping the apples, the children tired and became more interested in the cider press and the nectar running out of it. So I took over duties on the timber while Loz continued to chop the relentless supply of fruit.

The Juice Begins To Flow, Even Before Pressing

It is very exciting when the juice starts to flow and it tastes far better than anything you can get in the shops. But, when you see the first couple of centimetres at the bottom of the bucket, you begin to realise just how far you still have to go.

Pure Nectar!

Rain nearly stopped play halfway through, due to a sudden violent storm and the weather probably added a couple of centimetres to the mix and I think the drink will have to be called Thunder and Lightning Cider now .

Messy, Tasty, Hard-Work and Fun
I was exhausted by the time we reached our mark and aching from every muscle and sinew; I didn’t weigh that length of wood but I lifted it thousands of times. I still have another 5 Gallon barrel to fill, so next time we may just need to recruit an extra couple of able-bodied volunteers. Don't all rush at once...
The Turn of the Screw - Go-Girl, Put Your Back Into It

Here then, is the Urbane Forager’s Guide to the Cider Press…

·         Pick apples – a mixture of varieties is best to begin with.
·         Wash apples - bung a Campden tablet or two in the bucket first.
·         Chop apples – removing any bad bits (no need to peel or core).
·         Smash apples - into pulp using a piece of timber.
·         Press Pulp - into juice.
o   Add teaspoon of Pectinase (optional but helps clearing).
o   Kill natural yeast – add cider yeast (optional but less risky).
o   Add sugar (not required, unless you want to make alcohol content stronger).
·         Ferment juice in a covered bucket.
·         Transfer cider into a suitable barrel or bottle and allow to settle.
·         Drink!
o   Wassailing (you really should thank the trees that supplied your apples and it’s always provident to obey arcane wisdom and folklore where cider is concerned).

Take Cover and Make Sure Those Children Are Well Earthed

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