RG 2006 January
| This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant
Hello Andy and welcome!
It is good to have another cidermaker on board. I really can't understand why there aren't a lot more of us here. Perhaps they are there, but lurking! As you may have seen from some of the recent postings we are fortunate in having some very knowledgeable and helpful contributors, with regard to all aspects of cider making.
I have progressed from cider making as a hobby to small scale commercial production over the last two years. The help I have received from people here has been really wonderful. Ukcider has given me encouragement, saved me from making all manner of mistakes and broadened my cider horizon. For example, this year I had my first successful keeving of 100 gallons. ( thanks especially to Gary and Andrew).
I do hope that you will stay around and share your experiences with us in our common quest for the furtherance of real cider. I look forward to seeing your website and to visiting when I'm in Cornwall.
I'm so glad to see that you have stayed with us and thank you for your kind invitation to have a look round. Your postings will be of great interest to other cider makers and of general interest to all, as I note that your bottled cider has already been acclaimed here!
I was interested to hear that you pasteurise so as to be able to offer a cider sweetened with sugar. This seems to be the best way of producing sweet or semi-sweet cider in volume without resorting to the wretched artificial sweeteners. I think I'm going to produce some good naturally sweet cider this year from the keeving method but I can't see this being a reliable method for making a lot of it for sale, year on year. It is a bit tricky, although a very satisfying thing to do.
From all I've read seen and heard it seems to me that pasteurisation can also be a tricky process. I have been considering it for some time, but have been put off by the 'cooked apple' flavour problem. I gather that this may be avoided if not too high a temperature is used and the whole heating up and cooling down cycle is carried out anaerobically. I've also been surprised to hear that a trace of oxygen can still give this unwanted tinge even after pasteurisation. Julian Temperley told me that although they use an in- line pasteuriser at Burrow Hill, they started getting the cooked taste in their 1 litre flagons. He solved the problem by changing from plastic to metal caps. In his opinion the porosity of the plastic admitted enough air to cause the problem. Interesting isn't it? Have you had any problems of this sort? Any good tips for avoiding the apple pie flavour would be welcome.
New press arrives in giant pieces
It is mayhem here! The garage floor is covered with bits and pieces of cider press and the garden is littered with large sections and the old mechanics of a dismantled 40 ft grain elevator. This is Rose's cider works 2006, in the making!
I bought the press in the autumn but was too busy making cider to go and collect it from Gloucestershire. Being somewhat less busy now I hired a flat bed trailer and brought it back here last week. It was quite an undertaking since the press is 6 ft 6 in x 4 ft and is made of 9 x 3 inch U channel steel. It has a 3ft x 10 inch diameter cast iron hydraulic ram, that looks like an old WW2 bomb dug up from a building site. I had really under estimated how heavy it would all be. Fortunately the seller had arranged for a helpful farmer to be at hand with a large tractor and fork lifter to do the loading. There were several other very heavy bits like the 3 ft press bed and top plate, as well as the main frame and the ram. I watched the machine deposit these on the trailer effortlessly and felt a great sense of relief. It was not until I was apprehensively tugging a very heavy trailer down the M5, that I started to worry about how it was all going to come off at the other end.
At Sedgemoor Services I made the decision to 'phone a friend'. He said he would help me to solve the problem on arrival, by using by a chain hoist. Fortunately my garage is a conversion on the end of the same barn that I use for cider making and it has the floor above supported by steel RSJs. We backed the trailer in and used the chain hoist attached to the RSJ to lift the press parts off the trailer. It sounds much easier than it was, as a considerable amount of maneuvering and levering was also required. The situation now is that the cars are still without a garage and the cider press has been further dismantled to cover the entire garage floor.
I've decided to give the old lady a full clean up and repaint of all her many parts. Her name, resplendently embossed on her top beam, is Sainte Emidecau of Paris. This sounds a bit fanciful because this lady packs a 60 tonne punch! Her last owner had gone to a lot of trouble to ship her over from France where she must once have made innumerable litres of le cidre. I would guess she must be of pre war manufacture and I was interested to see the name of Bethlehem on the steel parts when I cleaned the old paint off. Could it be that her steel was made in the USA? If so, she is truly international. I'm glad to give her a new home in Dorset, which from Gloucester I suppose, is half way on her way back to France again.
I am still trying to fathom how to achieve Ste Emm's next little move from the garage into the ciderhouse, which should be even more fun. Pictures from school books of Romans moving building stone on rollers, spring to mind. I also have to make a 2 ft deep hole through the concrete floor (and my new tiles!) to accommodate the ram that awkwardly protrudes below the frame of the press.
The idea with this large press will be to have it fed from the mill situated on the floor above, in the time honoured fashion. This in turn means that I need an elevator to get the apples up to the mill. If I can get this fully implemented it would save a lot of labour next autumn. I dread to think how many wheelbarrows of apples I pushed last year, not to mention all the scooping of the pomace on to the press.
Two weeks ago I saw just the thing in our local advertiser. A farmer was taking down the machinery in his grain drying barn and had all manner of elevators and augers for sale. Luckily this was only 3 miles up the road so I went to have a look. I'd fancied an auger but as these were meant for transporting grain, they were only 4 inches diameter horribly rusty and not much use for apples. However the elevators were made of wooden box channels about 10 x 10 inches in cross section, which are nigh on ideal. I decided to buy one.
An 8 inch rubber belt that is fitted with scoops, runs inside the box channel and is carried around 12 inch diameter drums top and bottom to make an endless loop. I will replace the scoops with wooden slats to carry the apples. This will allow the water can drain away easily before the apples are deposited upstairs in the barn. Another job is to replace the 3 phase motor with a similar one that works on single phase. I found one on Ebay and got it for only £17. Unfortunately although of suitable power at 3 hp, it runs at twice the speed and has a different shaft diameter so there is a bit of mechanical jiggery pokery to solve somehow or other.
To the casual observer the whole lot looks like a big load of junk. The challenge is to bring it all to rebirth before September. I'm going to be busy but will keep you posted dear friends.
Things are not so untidy here now. My nephew came to stay last weekend and between us we managed to stow all the elevator sections in the loft of the barn. The garage floor is still occupied by a large recumbent cider press. I've cleaned off years and years of black apple juice grime. and St. Em is now half repainted in French navy blue. To paint the other half means that more winching and levering to get the old girl over on to her back. I have two large projects ahead of me. I intend to have the press installed before May and then to build the elevator and apple washing pit during the summer. If you come to our May Queen event ( May 13 th this year) you should be able to see St. Em installed, working and ready for action in the ciderhouse.
RE how to get rid of the dreaded rodent
I think that deterrence is the best policy. I put our cat's basket in the ciderhouse so that she sleeps in there. There is a hole in the door so that she may come and go as she pleases. Rats and mice seem to be able to detect the presence of a cat from far off and they keep well out of the way.
I recently mentioned the problem I've had with rats unearthing the buried pomace. This was easily solved buy using some of the poisoned corn available from farm and hardware shops. You just keep putting a few spoonfuls down each day until it is no longer eaten up. Then you know that you've done for the beggars. I put the poisoned bait inside a spare piece of 4 inch drainpipe so that other animals and birds were not able to get at it.
Cider apples for biofuel
Isn't it is tragic that we have allowed such a large amount of our national cider apple crop to go to waste? I just hope this will change as more people become aware of real cider made of 100% real cider apples. It is happening........slowly. I am heartened by more bottles of the real stuff making their appearance in the supermarkets these days.
The statistics quoted are horrendous. Whilst we are all aware of there being glucose syrup in what is being passed off as cider, I find it amazing that it exceeds anything even derived from apples by more than 2:1. No wonder you refer to it as 'glucose wine'. It is a scandal that it can be labelled as cider.
| end of January, 2006
return to The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant