RG 2004 September

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

September, 2004

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Westons organic

I did the trip to Waitrose and found the recommended 3 ltr boxes of Westons organic. Neat packaging, but I hope it does not signal the end of their nice 2ltr jars, that I am avidly collecting! The cider is the same as the 7.3 % oak conditioned that I bought previously from the Westons shop at Much Marcle and I have been enjoying it this very evening. Regarding the ingredients, I noticed that they have omitted the list on their new packaging. On the 2ltr jars it stated that organic cider apples were used plus organic sugar , malic acid and SO2. I hope the apples were grown in Herefordshire, but would not be surprised if they came from France, as no mention is made. I've no wish to stir up the hornets nest about permitted ingredients again, but I can't see much to object to. Surely we all use SO2 and sometimes a little sugar to produce a medium dry. I imagine that the water is added to get the alcohol level to the correct value for the duty payable. It is only the malic acid that concerns me a little, but after all this is in apples anyway. I suppose they put more in to give some extra bite. No doubt Andrew can enlighten me here. Nevertheless, I do find this a most enjoyable cider.

Rose

Hello All. just back from my hols in bonnie Scotland. Beautiful scenery and unusually so was the weather, but cider and apple trees were scarce to say the least. I did find a few bottles of Westons in Safeways in Inverness and seeing that it was the ' organic ' decided to try one. There was even a label on the bottle proclaiming that it had won an organic award. This did not taste at all like the Westons organic vintage that I had previously obtained in the 2ltr jars. It was heavily carbonated, which I hate. If this was the same as Ray tried, I would agree that it is pretty awful. I've also just read Andrew's posting on the subject re the sugar and malic acid etc and now wonder if I've been conned by diluted cider wine reacidified. Shame if it was, because I liked it. May be something to do with my own use of wine yeast for cider making! Rose

Sweet Alford/Le Bret

Readers of the splendid Somerset Pomona by Liz Copas may have been intrigued, as I was, by the mix up between these two varieties when they were propagated at Long Ashton. I obtained Sweet Alford from Merriot with my original trees 12 yrs ago. Ive made some pleasant cider from it over the last few years ( 100% juice, of course!) However it seems to be going biennial, as there are not many apples on it this year. Having seen the Pomona, I have been watching things carefully this year. The fruit is nearly ripe and from its appearance, yellow with red speckley stripes, it is definately Le Bret. I wondered if other people growing "Sweet Alford" had also become aware of this. I wont be complaining to Merriot nurseries as Le Bret is also a quality cider apple. It is an early cropper like my Tom Putts and Redstreaks. They are looking red and pretty in the grass under the trees already, so its time to get busy again.

Rose.


My Le Brets, like yours, Stephen, haven't dropped yet. What I meant to say was that it is an earlier variety than Sweet Alford, being ready in October instead of November. This is another aid to distinguishing between them. Le Bret is also earlier in blossom. The excellent photos in Liz's book have made me look more closely at the apples this year. My first cider tree, now 15 yrs old was Somerset Redstreak. I like the cider it makes and have propagated more trees from it. Now I've noticed that the apples, although they look like SR, have unusally long stems. SR stems are noticeably short. I am wondering what it really is. Anybody got any Ideas? Rose.


My new press

I've just completed my first pressing using the rack and cloth press that I made this summer. I am pleased to say that it works very well. It produced 7 gallons of juice from 10 gallons of milled Tom Putts, which seems to be a respectable yield. It is certainly a great improvement on the 1 gallon basket press that I've used for the last 12 years. In case anybody else is making a press at the moment, here are some details that may be useful: The cheese stack in my press is 18 x 18 inches and consists of 6 layers, each 2 inches thick. The top pressure plate is made of two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood stuck together. The base plate was made the same way. The juice tray is a stainless steel Gastronorm container from www.meillerduchef.com . I fitted an ordinary stainless sink outlet to this, to act as a juice outlet. The press frame is made of oak from my local timber yard and is bolted together with stainless studding, washers and nuts. After considerable research, I found what I think is the perfect hydraulic jack. The trouble with most car jacks is that they only have a maximum extension of 5 or 6 inches. This means that you have to keep adding hardwood chocks, in order to get the full extension needed in a cider press. The jack I have obtained is a double ram telescopic type that has a full travel of 10 inches. This is ideal for my press, especially as it also has a working pressure of 12 tonnes. the jack is a Draper High Lift Bottle, Pt No. 55124. It can be obtained from www.tooled-up.com I took up Andrew and Roy's suggestion of using the nylon curtain material to contain the cheeses. It is very good and easy to use. I was surprised how cleanly the used apple pulp came away from this material, when pressing was completed. It was like unwrapping a dry biscuit of apple.

I am delighted. Its the Redstreaks tomorrow!

Rose

Not a scientific assessment as yet. I couldn't wait to see the thing work, so I just milled the Tom Putts until I had two 5 gallon bins full of pomace. I loaded the press with this, which as luck would have it, was just enough to fill the 6 layer stack (total height 12 inches). The ram squeezed each 2 inch layer down to about 1/2 an inch. There was still some travel left, but I did not want to push my luck too soon! 7 gallons of juice was obtained. Today however it was a different story. I pressed the same amount of Somerset redstreak, and only got 5 gallons. This was in spite of the fact that I had left these apples under the tree for several weeks to soften. Yield is obviously dependent on the type of apple. I remember last year getting some amazing yields from Bramleys. It will be interesting to see what the new press will do to them. I will do a proper calculation of yield based on weight rather than volume, now that the initial excitement is over! Rose

Press Racks

A further tip that I forgot to mention yesterday. If you have any of those wardrobe louvre doors, that were so popular in the 70s, the slats in them are perfect for making press racks. The wood that was used was close grained and of good quality, not the soft wood rubbish so widely used today.

Rose

Ray replied that the wood is called 'Ramin' and also suggests 'Obeche' and Spruce providing it isn't too sappy

You certainly know your woods, Ray. It is surprising what a lot of wood is needed to make the racks. I did not have enough louvre doors, so had to buy some ready made racks from Vigo. Theirs are made of Acacia wood. This seems rather exotic, as was the price, at £30 each! I am pleased that I did not buy their press cloths at £15 each. The net curtains do a splendid job. It only cost me £9 for enough material to make the 6 cloths.

Rose


Pressing results

A measured result from my new press. Here are the figures from a single pressing of Kingston Black:

Tree...... Kingston Black, on M25 , planted as 2 yr maiden in 1993. This was the one nearly killed by canker.
Soil.......Low grade. Shallow loam over chalk. No fertiliser or sprays
Crop 2004.....66 lbs.
Milled volume.....9 gallons of pomace
Press yield.....40 lbs (just over 4 gallons of juice)
Actual yield..... 60%.
Initial SG 1050

This cider will be keeved and fermented as a single variety. The pomace was allowed to stand for 24 hrs before pressing. Hoping this will make Rose's favourite tipple for Summer 2005!

Questions:

  • After milling you said that you let the pomace stand for 24 hours. Do you always do this or vary dependent upon apple variety, etc.?
  • Do you add any sulphite (i.e. Campden Tablets) and if so when?
  • After milling or after pressing?
  • Do you go with nature's own yeasts or add a specific yeast at a desirable moment?

I only let the pomace stand for a day, when I am making my own favourite single varieties of KB, Dabinet an Stoke Red. This is because if I am going to drink it, I prefer a keeved cider that still has a little of its natural sweetness left. All other cider that I make is a continuous process, from mill to press. As for sulphite. I would never risk cider without it, having had vinegary disasters in the past! I put one campden tablet in for every gallon from the press. At this stage I also add white wine yeast to get things off to a good start. This year though for the first time, I've let my speciality ciders start themselves, just to see if it makes any difference to the taste. Rose

Q: .. off the top of your head ... roughly how much do you produce (annually)?

70 gallons last year. That was using the 1 gallon basket press. I am hoping to do much more this year with the new press that is giving 6 or 7 gallons each time. I am up to 30 galls and have only just started. Once I have finished my own orchard it will really depend on how many real cider apples I can obtain elsewhere. I've already started turning down people who kindly offer their cooking apples. I did too many Bramleys last year and the blend was too acidic for my taste.

Rose

Bushels

John your measurement units go back further into folklore than even the ones that I still use, (in spite of the pressure towards metrication here). The hundredweight (cwt) is 112 pounds. I had to look up the bushel. It is actually a volumetric unit and I probably learnt at school that ; 2 gallons is one peck and 4 pecks is one bushel. So the bushel is 8 gallons. Now I can visualise what the bushel sacks of apples used to look like, that are mentioned in the old wassail songs. As it happens, I managed to get 1 cwt of pomace on to my press this evening. So far it has produced 7 gallons of juice. If it manages to squeeze another gallon overnight. I will have a bushel of juice. The apple today is Royal Somerset, more juicy than Kingston. It looks as though the yield will be better. Rose

I've only just begun! There will be Dabinet, Yarlington Mill and Harry Masters Jersey from my own orchard and assorted varieties from the orchards and gardens around here. Last weekend I picked 3 cwt of cider apples from three old trees in a garden. Half of these were the distinctive bell shaped apple that is sometimes called Sheep's Nose. Having delved into Liz's Pomona, I think the other trees were Royal Somerset and Court de Wyck. Next week I am off to see a friend who has 6 cider trees, one of which is the beloved Kingston Black. Her late husband was a keen cider man and she is pleased that I can make use of the apples. Lucky me! The apples are building up in the barn, so I will be very busy from now on. I expect ukcider will go a bit quiet for the next month or so as a lot of us will be so busy making the glorious liquid. Cheers, Rose

Royal Somerset

It is new to me Ray. I came across it a week ago in a garden near Yetminster. I always make a Demijohn or two of every variety that I come across and put the rest into the blend. That way I will know whether it is worth doing as a single. Be able to let you know next Spring. It is one of the most exciting things about making cider. I see it as being every bit as interesting as wine. Kingston is my Shiraz, Dabinet my Cabernet, etc.

Rose.