RG 2004 October

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

October, 2004



catching up again

What a lot of interesting post there has been while I have been so busy apple washing! Thank you all for your views about apple cleanliness and additives. I feel more encouraged to stay with what I am doing, although it is quite a chore. Over a ton of apples have passed through my sinks already. (Not a small quantity in my view , Wayne). That is the old type 20 cwt ton with 112 lbs to the cwt. Next week I'm back to Justin's at Sparkford for another half ton. I need more jersey types to enrich the blend. Justin tells me that following my input on ukcider, the Norfolk cider group came and collected 2 tons of mixed cider apples. I do hope they keep us posted as to how they get on. It sounds like a good venture they have got going there, which would be of great interest to us all. The post here has been ukcider at its best, since I last logged on. Apple washing is obviously quite a fun thing. I loved hearing about Roy's innovative bed spring technique! How interesting to hear about cider history in the USA from John and about Dick's recent holiday here. Thanks for the valuable tasting notes, Dick. Can't wait to check some of these out, myself. Picking up on Stephen's idea of tasting our own ciders. A great idea. I wanted to take up the kind invitation to your orchard event last May, Stephen, but it clashed with my trip to Putley for Big Apple. I was sorry about this at the time, as it would have been nice to meet you and to see your orchard.

We have a blossom event here in May with a barbecue and a cider tasting. Last year we also restored the village May Queen ceremony. The local Morris men came and after they had done their dance routine, they persuaded the rest of us to dance as well. one of them was also a country dance caller. Everyone must have enjoyed themselves because I did not have much cider left over. Morris men have a prodigious thirst for cider! Next year we are hoping to add to the event by getting the children to dance the Maypole. I will post the details here, nearer the time. If any group members would like to come, with or without their own cider, for tasting alongside my own, they will be most welcome.


I'm not trying to wind anybody up, Wayne. I've been making cider almost continually since mid September and all of those apples have been through my two sinks. Tomorrow I'm getting a load more that will have been mechanically harvested from the orchard floor. I will certainly make sure that they get a good washing . The value of this came home to me the other day. I was kneeling under a tree picking up apples when I realised from the unpleasant odour that I had knelt in some badger pooh! Wouldnt fancy that flavour in the cider.


Apple washing

Surely it is common sense to wash the apples as thoroughly as possible, especially if some, or all, of them have been collected from the ground. Even if they have not been sprayed, all manner of beasties have probably crawled over or shat upon them. I have a double sink which I use to carry out a two stage wash. They go in the first basin to remove any mud or worse. Then I pull them over into the second basin. Here they are washed again in water that has had a teaspoon of SO2 added. At this stage I also cut out any rotten parts from the apples, before they go into the mill. I believe that cleanliness makes good cider and that sulphiting is essential. In fact I am now using more campden tablets for the higher pH juices, following the useful discussion here with Andrew recently. I've also started using Vigo's sulphur candles for sterilising my barrels. They are effective and easy to use. I do'nt think you can be too careful. There seems to be an awful lot of fruit flies still around in my cider barn this year as the weather is still warm enough for them. Just do'nt trust these little beggars! In spite of all my precautions I have never had any trouble with starting fermentation, with or without added yeast. It just happens, after a day or two. Like magic!


power steering

Loved your pictures. Ray! Congratulations on the beautifully grown apples. They should make some very tasty cider. Those Yarlingtons against the clear blue sky look good enough to eat. Dare I ask if they were sprayed?!! I laughed about Gail 'furiously milling'. I have been very furious with that machine lots of times. Sometimes it is impossible to turn the wheel using the handle and I have to inch the thing round, rather like a steering wheel without any power steering. Rose.

apple and cider weekend

Just noticed in my local paper that Sanders Gardenworld at Burnham -on-Sea, Somerset, is having an apple & cider special event this weekend, 16/17 October. It is located just off M5 J22. Details as follows: - 300 varieties of apples on display- -friut trees & bushes for sale- -Advice on planting & pruning- -ciders to taste & for sale- -fun & games for the children- - rural crafts & local produce- -Bring your own apples and press them free of charge on their press- Personally, I have got more than enough of that to do here, but I might drive over there if it is a nice day.


Sorry if I gave anybody a wasted journey. I did wonder if, being a garden centre, it was a bit of a ruse to sell their expensive little Cox and Bramley trees. However being right in the middle of Cider country I expected better things. Had to smile when I learnt of the fate of one of their 12 ltr Vigo presses. Exactly the same happened to mine, not long after I bought it. This prompted me to get a 2ton car jack (£8 from Screwfix). It fitted between the beam and the wooden pressure plate and had just about the right extension. This was a much better arrangement than the screw and gave a better juice yield. Although I am now using my rack and cloth press for the cider, I still find the 12 ltr press useful for small quantities of apples that are new to me, which I want to try as a single variety. I've also been using it for wine making as it allows the different grape varieties to be made separately. I also think the scratter that goes with it is too coarse. Vigo have the answer now with their stainless steel shredder, but you have to have £600 to spare! Rose

Somerset cider apples

I have just collected half a ton of mixed variety cider apples from a farm about 1 mile South of Sparkford (near A303). They are from an old orchard of standard trees, are of good quality and have never been sprayed.The trees were planted by a previous owner so the present farmer is unsure of their varieties. The apples were a mix of 4 types, two of which look like Sweet Alford and Harry Masters Jersey. I am still working on the others ( with Liz ).

If anybody would like to go and collect some, they are £80 per ton.

Contact Justin Crawford on 07721 374761 at Rectory Farm, Weston Banfelde. I'm going to be ever so busy next week, after a short break this week end to go to Big Apple celebrations at Much Marcle. Guess what I will be bringing back from Westons! Rose

apple pictures

Trevor asked if I could put my apple pictures on the site. I would like to Trevor, but they would need a lot of editing as I took many shots from different angles etc. I almost have enough to compile my own Herefordshire pomona! It would all take more time than I can spare just now. Also I still only have steam internet. The half ton of apples from Somerset are still in need of pressing and yesterday I picked 2 bushels of grapes, (showing off John, now I know what a bushel is). On a more positive note, the helpful expert from the cider museum said that they were making a CD rom of Herefordshire cider apples, that will be available next year. That will be useful. My posting on Big apple reads like an advert for Vigo, so I must redress the balance by mentioning other highlights. The orchard and farm walk was most enjoyable. To see this year's fabulous crop of apples in the old standard orchards was a memorable sight. There were some ancient perry pear trees as well. I had not realised how large these trees can become. They looked as impressive as old oak trees. There were appley books on sale in the main display barn and I bought a new one by Fiona Mac called Cider in the Three Counties. I've only read a little so far but I can see that this is a well researched work that gives a comprehensive account of cider making and related topics in that area. It is a good read as the historical detail is punctuated by hilarious anecdotes. It is also good to see many of our ukcider friends mentioned, like Andrew Lea and Dave Matthews. It is a must have! details are: Logaston Press ISBN 1-904396-10-0 , Price £9.95.

Cheers, Rose

Big Apple at Marcle

Just back from a really enjoyable weekend. The whole event was very well organised and both days were needed to do justice to all that was on offer. Rather than bore you all with every itsy bit of it, I will just mention what were the highlights from the cidermaking viewpoint. Hereford cider Museum put on a super display of cider apples with each variety named.I brought samples of the ones I bought in Somerset last week and was able to confirm them as Harry Masters, Sweet alford, Brown Snout and Cider lady's Finger. I also took plenty of photos of the apples on display for future reference. I enjoyed watching the cider making at Lyne Down and at Greg's Pitt. It was useful to see some of Vigo's expensive pieces of kit being used. The stainless steel 'garden shredder type' mill was being used at Greg's to mill Kingston Black. I was impressed with the fine quality of the pomace produced. It looked like a pink porridge. The machine easily accepts whole apples and is very quick in operation. Must have one........one day! They also had some of the Vigo stainless steel variable capacity tanks there. An excellent idea for combating air spoilage of the cider, but also alas rather expensive. Vigo pumps were also in use at both places for transfering juice from the bucket below the press to the vats. Another useful thing to have, but I was told that it is essential to coarse filter the juice coming out of the press or these pumps can easily clog up. And of course I made the essential pilgrimage to Westons to collect a 6 jar pack of my favourite. Cheers to their' Vintage',

Rose. Ps. Thanks for the pH papers info, Andrew. You are a Star! I will order some tomorrow.

PH test papers

Got the test papers from Homebrew that Andrew recommended. They are an easy and inexpensive solution, but I find them rather difficult to interpret. Firstly I tried one with bramley juice that I am fermenting separately. This produced a yellowish green on the test strip, indicating about pH 3. So far so good, exactly as expected. I then tested my 'all in' blend. This time the indicator portion turned a slate grey colour which bears no resemblence to any of the reference colours. I suppose that I must assume that it is a mixture of the yellow and purple extremes of the test strip and therefore indicates that my blend has a medium pH value.



The RHS magazine 'The Garden' is a real gem this month, being devoted almost entirely to fruit growing. There is a tip in one of the articles that could be useful. Apparently if Nepeta (Catmint) is grown below fruit trees it will help in the control of aphids. It flowers about the same time as the annual aphid onslaught. Its flowers encourage a cetain type of parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in aphids. After the awful mess these little perishers made of my trees this year, I'm definitely going to give this a try. Probably end up with all the cats in the neighbourhood lolling around as well! Rose