RG 2004 July

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

July, 2004


Press cloths

I am making a traditional oak framed 'cheese' type cider press. Can anyone give me a source for some suitable coarsely woven cloth for the 'cheeses'. I imagine there must be a hygenic version of hessian available somewhere or other.


Thank you, John, Andrew and Roy,for your advice re press cloths. I will try out the curtain material. Another item I would dearly love to find would be a 2 x 2 ft stainless steel tray to collect the juice at the base of the press. I've surfed myself silly looking at manufacturers of catering equipment etc without success. Any ideas anyone? Roy, I looked in at the Atlantic Farm shop you told me of, in Bungay. I was over in Norfolk on holiday so I called in on the way back and bought two of their large ex lemon juice plastic drums at £9 each. They will make good fermenting vessels. What a wonderful shop for cider makers. Just wish it was closer to home as they also have the huge 1500 litre juice tanks at only £70.


scratter mill varnish

Far be it from me to cast any sort of slur on anybody's cider, it was just that I have been pondering whether it would be a good idea to varnish the new oak on the scratter mill I have rebuilt. You may remember my comments at the time, as to how all the parts that had been in contact with the juice were riddled with woodworm. It would seem to be a good idea to juice proof the wood with varnish as you did with your juice tray.

My other reason for thinking about this is the matter of hygiene. Surely it can't be good for wood to be soaked in juice year on year. I know the old cider makers did it, but you only have to think of some of the evil stuff that was made on farms and made 'Scrumpy' a name that was despised. We have heard the story many times as to how the flavour 'builds up' in the cider making equipment! I am in a transition stage between ever more demijohns and using casks or plastic drums. I know that I can make good cider in glass but it is becoming too labour intensive. I have been put off using the whiskey barrels that I bought by Dave Matthews' lament about too many ciders being whisky flavoured. This led me to the recycled juice drums.

The scientific expose of the absorbent property of plastic has probably done many of us a favour and also advanced the cause of good clean cider. I think a lot of people are using these readily available containers. It is a common sight around the West Country to see a row of the big black drums in a cider maker's yard. Maybe they bought them new, but I somehow doubt it. There is not a lot of money in making cider,especially at wholesale prices. So I've cut my whiskey barrels in half and planted them with cannas.( My how they are blooming!) The juice drums will become water butts. I will just have to save up and buy new from Vigo or similar.

I've found a firm at Westbury, Wilts, that makes the palletised 1000 litre plastic cube tanks. They cost £130 each. Again, many thanks Andrew for the comprehensive information.

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