Saturday, 6 October 2012

Cider House Rules

It has been a bad year for fruit and fruit trees generally but by using our map to remind us we still managed to pick plenty of apples to store and crush into juice. Apple picking and cider making are quintessential autumnal activities and I look forward to these days each year. 
We do offer a cropping service whereby, if people ask us, we will come and pick apples that they would otherwise not use.
Our friends Craig and Rachel, offered us the bulk of the apples on the trees in their garden; on tree was full of cookers and the other, a lovely knobbly old tree had delicious Coxian eaters.
That morning, with the enthusiastic help of the children, we had soon plucked about 40Kgs of apples, which in my book means only one thing, an afternoon of apple pressing.
This year I have invested in a small apple scratter, which Craig and I soon had clamped onto my battered old workmate.
Then in a whirlwind of communal effort (apple pressing is a very social event), we began the process…
One person chopping the apples and cutting out any bad bits (any parts that you would not like to eat but the skin and core is fine to leave in).
The next job was cranking the handle on the scratter and carefully feeding the hopper with more apples.
When the bucket was full enough, we then empty it into the press and the children turn the screw as far down as they can, before handing over to the strong arms of the adults.
The juice is collected in a bucket and I wanted 5 gallons of it because that is the size of my barrel.
That afternoon, after cleaning up all the equipment (we did achieve our goal); I cycled over to Shirley, where I had been invited to another sociable apple pressing.
Members of the Southampton Slow Club had deployed our fruit map in order to locate and pick a dustbin full of apples and hired a lovely big scratter and press from Ashurst Community Centre. I couldn't stay too long but they were a friendly bunch that were having great fun and making very rapid progress.


  1. Great post - thank you. I'm involved with the Ashurst & Colbury Community Group who now have two presses and scratters to lend to people. We got a grant from the new Forest National Park Authority's Sustainable Development Fund to buy it. Full details are at
    We had our Apple Day yesterday and made gallons and gallons of juice! :)

  2. Hi Richard
    We were hoping to attend your pressing and even had some apples ready to bring.
    Unfortunately, life conspired against us and we missed the event. Glad to hear it all went well.
    We might be interested in hiring your press for our apple day event at the Mansbridge Community Orchard .

  3. Great....just check the availability on our site...all the best