Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cider Press Party

We managed to gather enough apples from the Little Common in Southampton, the Lost Orchard of Hedge End and the churchyard of St. Mary’s in Swathling, to fill our apple store. Importantly, we had enough surplus to press out a few gallons of delicious Apple juice – or Cider as I like to call it.
I was looking forward to getting some action out of the new cider press, which we have been able to purchase with money from the Southampton Airport Community Fund. It had only been used once before by Dan, who is planning to open the Butcher’s Hook, micro pub in Bitterne Park Triangle, soon... I can’t wait for that either!
We asked some friends over, it’s a lot of hard graft and many hands make light work. Pressing a large amount of juice requires military style planning and the action goes something like this...
  •          Wash the apples in a large bucket.
  •          Chop the apples into quarters and remove any really bad bits.
  •          Crush the apples into a pulp and fill the press using a fruit mill.
  •          Press the juice out.
  •          Collect the juice.
  •          Compost the remains.
  •          Repeat process until done.
  •          Clean the equipment.
Fortunately, children really enjoy the majority of these fascinating processes and can be largely paid off with the best tasting apple juice available.
We added a few pears, kindly donated from our neighbours tree for extra sweetness; according to Dan (who is something of a brewing geek) the sugars are different and don’t fully ferment to dryness. We pressed the Red Devils from St Mary’s separately, just to see the red juice pour out. It was super sweet and we kept it apart for the children to drink as a reward.
I’m pleased to say that we did reach our five gallon target and the day was rounded off with a big barbecue for all involved. Everyone was fully tired by the end of the day, including the kids who were up late playing and, as I collapsed into bed, I slept the sleep of the deeply contented.

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