RG 2005 March

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

March, 2005



Suppliers of Cider bottles

Quite a number of us who are small scale producers of cider and apple juice in UK, use bottles produced by Bristol Bottle Co Ltd . This firm is happy to deliver a single pallet of bottles. As an example, I paid £ 221 for a pallet of 812 green 75 cl and 1000 screw on plastic caps, earlier this year. Clear glass and bottles in other sizes are also available by the pallet load.

The driver told me that he had several other pallets to be delivered in my area and that my "one off" requirement was not unusual as he travelled all over the place to small producers. Whether this extends to Ireland I do not know, but it could be worth asking. Tel 0117 9869667. Best of luck with the cider. you've got some good apples there. Could be a promising market too, if you can wean them off the Black Stuff!



Thanks for the ideas. I am using a small pump that works at about the same rate as hospital pumps. It is the Europump, an Italian food grade pump sold by Vigo at £60. I mention this in case others may be thinking of getting one. It works fine, is self priming but slow at about 1 gall/min. OK for 5 gall fermenters but torturous for pumping out barrels. Unfortunately it also overheats after 15 minutes and is switched off by its thermal cut out. I have been able to get round this by putting a small fan next to it. That way it will pump out a whole barrel before cutting out. But it takes time! I want to get the Okoflow that does 11 galls/min (but costs £370)


What a wealth of info on pumps! Very useful. Thank you all.

I checked all the barrel bung holes as soon as I saw Jeremy's posting about the bilge pumps. The holes range from 40 to 60 mm diameter so these pumps would be fine as they are 38 mm. They are OK for clean water and must be corrosion resistant and appear to be totally encased in plastic. They look like being a possibility.The only downside is that they a LV DC power supply or a car battery. The pumps are obviously designed for marine use as they use 12 or 24 v DC.

Logic tells me that Roy would not be making his consistently good cider if there was any problem with having the Clark pump immersed in it, year after year. These pumps also seem to a very cost effective solution for vats. (Machine mart currently has the 400A on offer at £35 and it has a float switch) This could be a good pump for automatically pumping juice from the press bucket to the vat.

I had a look at Gary's dishwasher pump. That looks like the real business, totally stainless steel. I have often marveled at the vast amount of stainless steel in dishwashers when considering how cheap they have become. Now Gary, if there is a pump like that in mine, it must be time to get a new dishwasher! I could have a state of the art dishwasher AND a cider pump for less than the price of Vigo's Okoflow!


Vigo Mill from ebay

Q: Is that you who won this Rose?

A: Yes-!! Tis I, delighted I am to be sure!

Sorry if it was you bidding against me, but I really wanted that mill. I intended to buy one this year so it was a good saving to be able to get one at just over half the price. Now I am looking for an Okoflow pump, as also featured in the Vigo catalogue. If anyone has one for sale please let me know.

I must say a big thank you to 'Yarlington Mill' who advised ukcider that the mill was on ebay. I will look forward to pulverising your eponymous apples with it later this year.


Thanks Mark and Ray for your kind and generous postings.

I'm afraid I was still in post Ebay euphoria when I replied last night. Please excuse the triumphalist undertone with the thought that I will do penance for my gain by having to drive to Arundel! Driving east /west across the south of England is gruesome compared with going north. It is probably better going via London!

The flood of postings since the auction has shown that there would be considerable interest in collective purchasing of cider making equipment, probably sourced in eastern Europe. This is an excellent idea as there are a good many things, as well as mills, that are overpriced. I mentioned the 'food grade' pump by Okoflow and why, oh why, do stainless steel vats have to be so hideously expensive? Stainless steel products are getting much cheaper lately. The other day I saw a SS waste paper bin that would hold 50 litres for £40.

I would be pleased to join a group purchase scheme. It could also benefit the quality of cider generally, if small producers could afford to throw away their old barrels an ex juice drums! How sweet it would be to see Vigo knocked off their expensive perch.

Aluminium vats

I have obtained two large ex vineyard fermenting vats. They are called Sputniks, which describes their appearance rather well. They are made of solid aluminium and have an internal enamel coating. The coating is chipped in a few places especially around the pipe connector bosses. I am in a dilemma as whether to risk using them for blending my cider in. Can anybody advise me as to the effect of aluminium in contact with cider. I note that my press racks from Vigo are held together with aluminium rivets so I'm wondering if this metal is permissible in moderation.

The best course would be to repaint the bare places in the vats, but I do not know what would be best to do it with. I thought that perhaps car body repair epoxy would be suitable. Has anybody else had this sort of problem? I would be interested to know how you got over it.


Q: is aluminium safe for long term cider storage?

It is because aluminium is no longer used for cooking that I am concerned about the vats. We have cooked using stainless steel pots for many years, although I must confess to using a large aluminium dixie fpr heating the mulled cider for our wassail party. Nobody in the village seems to be showing early signs of dementia just yet!

I had half expected Andrew to come back and say that cider on aluminium would react to produce an unwholesome salt called aluminium somethingate, that would give a nasty twang to the cider! Anyway its a good idea to ask Vigo as I think they were the original supplier of the vats.

A: Aluminium and cider are generally recommended for transient contact only (eg Pollard and Beech 'Cidermaking' 1957).

Andrew, thank you for your comprehensive reply. I have not yet risked using these vats and have blended by the complicated process of pumping cider from one oak barrel to another, then to another, etc. However after the over- oaking experience of last year, that I mentioned recently, I am tasting frequently to make sure it does not happen again. As soon as I feel happy with the degree of oaking, then I will need to transfer the cider to the the bulk vessels for final storage and maturation. I will need to find a suitable food grade lacquer to repair the internal coating of the vats, before I do this. It was interesting to learn that aluminium drinks cans are internally lacquered. I wonder what the lacquer is. Thanks again,

Thomas Hardy and planting

Re: Thomas Hardy and cider

I enjoyed reading that, as I long been an admirer of Thomas Hardy. I think of Giles Winterborne in the Woodlanders when I'm planting trees in the orchard. Hardy described how Giles planted with the strongest part of the root system pointing towards the prevailing wind because it gives the best anchorage to the new tree. It is basic mechanics, but I've never seen this good advice in a horticultural book. My orchard is exposed to the prevailing southwesterly, so I always plant like Giles.


Aluminium vats again

In case anybody is still worrying about my aluminium vats. They have been used for wine by the vineyard that sold them to me and they are definitely not pre 1970. The vineyard bought them from Vigo so they can't be all that old.( I should think that Alex Hill was still only making his own cider at Clayhidon in the 70s .) The enamel in the vats is rather a shiny sort of heat cured paint by the look of it and grey in colour, not at all like the hard white enamel found on mugs and old fashioned wash bowls. I am also pleased to say that the problem has been solved due to the great kindness of Gary Awdey, who has sent me some food grade epoxy, all the way from the USA! I will be able to touch up the bare places with this and then be able to use the vats with confidence. Thanks again Gary.