RG 2004 November

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

November, 2004


Recent postings about perry fermenting ,or not, has me wondering if other cider makers have discovered how easily apple juice ferments in plastic spring water bottles.

At this time of year I like to taste the juice of each type of apple that I press. It is interesting to taste the flavour before fermentation and compare this with the sort of cider that each variety produces. (Thanks to Andrew's little test strips, I also check the pH at this stage, so that I know how mush SO2 is needed.)

I've been putting these juice samples in the little blue plastic bottles that are used for spring water. Then I put them in the fridge so that I can enjoy Kingston Black, or whatever with my breakfast. Often they get forgotten and after a day or two start to ferment even at the low temperature and with no added yeast. It seems to be guaranteed. Probably these would make perfect starter bottles to get a large quantity going, if I needed this assistance. However what I have found is that these little bottles of partly fermented cider make a delightful drink. A sort of cidre nouveau! It's about 5% abv and still pleasantly sweet after about 2 weeks.

Already I hear people tut tutting about the danger of explosion. In fact it is amazing how tough these bottles are. The corrugations in the sides of the bottle allow for expansion. Not wanting to have one burst in the fridge, I experimented by leaving one in the garden last year. It was there until Spring and still refused to burst.

Of course I am not advocating that anybody else does this! Just thought you would be interested, or may even have dicovered it already.


I am valiantly battling to get all my apples milled before they go bad! Nearly caught up this evening, which is just as well as Im getting a final load of Porter's Perfection next week. I have not heard anything about Powerstock's festival and hope that details become posted here in due course. I would like to go to it.

Sheeps Nose

Wayne asked about Sheep's Nose cider apples. The apples I used a few weeks ago were the type called Bell. They are a mid-season sweet that are often also called Sweet Sheeps Nose. If you hold one of these with the eye uppermost it is obvious how they got their name. The conical shape has an inward curvature that makes it 'bell out' towards the stem. Of course if you turn the apple sideways, it then looks very much like a sheep's nose.

Yesterday I saw another type of Sheeps Nose in Justin's orchard. This was the late season sharp variety. They were still hard and green and firmly attached to the tree. Liz Copas descibes this in her Somerset Pomona as the one that is sometimes called Sheeps Nose No. 3. Dont ask what happened to No. 2! I also had the pleasure of seeing Porter's Perfection for the first time. The characteristic tendency to produce double apples makes it easy to identify. They are also a late and need a few more weeks on the tree. I am looking foward to trying some as a single variety.

Justin's orchard is sheer delight. 100 year old Standards in a rich green sward. Whoever planted it must have been a real cider enthusiast. It seemed to me that every tree was a different variety. Unfortunately the planting record has been lost. There must be every type of bittersweet jersey that is in Liz's book, possibly more. I suggested that he asks Liz to come and identify them. It was more than I could do once I'd got past Dabinet Yarlington and Kingston Red.

Justin is keen to preserve his orchard and it is well looked after. New trees have been added whenever the ancients have fallen. He likes the idea of craft cidermakers using his apples in the traditional way, as opposed to just sending them off to the Mill to be crunched up to make the nominal English apple component of whatever it is they are making. He is also warm to the idea of having a blossom event for cider enthusiasts. It would be the perfect venue. If anyone needs more apples, please support him. Julian Temperley is going to have some shortly, so speed may be of the essence. I packed my Landrover with 3/4 ton of lovely jerseys. Had to drive back slowly because I could hardly see out . This may keep me quiet for a while!


Ps 1...Worth Matravers is between Swanage and Corfe in Dorset. Ps 2...What date is Clytha next May? I am flexible.