RG 2009 February

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

February , 2009


Cooking Apples

I have come to the conclusion that it is well worth experimenting with the cooking properties of different apple varieties. In particular I've been pleasantly surprised yet again by Ashmead's Kernel. Not only is this variety a flavourful acidifier for cider and a tasty eater but it is also delicious when cooked. A further virtue is its longevity in storage. We cooked the last remainder of December's crop yesterday! None of the apples had gone bad during storage. Bramleys have never lasted well enough for my liking. I will store a lot more of the Ashmeads this year.

At the supermarket we often pick up a little treat to take home as a sort of reward to enjoy with a cuppa once the shopping has been stashed away. Tesco's apple puffs are a particular favourite. The pastry is lovely but the apple filling is disappointing. There is never more than a thin smear of factory Bramley pulp inside them. I've taken to slicing an Ashmead, microwaving the slices for one minute and then inserting these into the puffs. They then become our 'Super Pooftas', each having been transformed into a mini pie with good chunky apple flavour.

I consider the Ashmeads as an enhancement to the original Tesco product. It is also a lazy way of getting the yummy taste of a proper apple pie without actually making one. It has to be worth the money not to have all that flour everywhere!

This is the time of year when the cider that I put aside for myself from the previous season finally runs out and I can't find a solitary bottle in the ciderhouse to have with my evening meal. This sad point was reached last week. Then I suddenly remembered the cider and perry that Jez and Roy kindly gave me at Barry's Weekend in October. I'd put the bottles in a cupboard in the utility room. Finding them again was like discovering buried treasure! I'm pleased to tell you that treasure indeed they proved to be, as I have enjoyed them very much. My thanks to Jez and also to Roy.

I have not yet been able to get to Waitrose for a 'bridging supply' of my favourite Dunkertons, so this evening I was obliged to sup my first pint of the new season's cider. It seems quite promising and yes I think I can detect a subtle overtone from those wicked Nehous!

Homemade Electric Scratter

I have a Vigo hand turned mill (the one with the big green wheel) and
would like to adapt it by adding a single phase motor and pulley
system instead of the wheel.
I seem to recall Rose saying she had done something similar. - Jez

Yes I did used to have one of these. As no doubt you already know, they need a lot of effort to turn by hand!

I did a quick fix experiment of trying to power mine with a motor and pulley and it was hopeless. These mills need a lot of torque to get them started. I would recommend that you get a motor with an integral worm gear box to provide a low speed/ high torque direct drive to the shaft (with big handwheel removed). From my own trial I would guess that the motor/gearbox would need to be in the I.5 to 2 Kw region, with an output speed of less than 50 rpm. They are not easy to come buy secondhand.

I always thought that these little hand scratters would be rather good if only they were powered, though you would need to keep your fingers well away from those awesome little rotating claws!

I am afraid the conclusion I have come to is to sell it on and move on
up to an electric mill.

A wise decision, Jez!

I expect that like me, you marvelled at the efficiency of the Shark when deftly demonstrated by Vicky at Barry's Weekend.

Having soldiered on with one of the hand crankers for a good many years, I was ecstatic when I eventually took the plunge and went electric. It still gives me pleasure hear the apples rattling through the milling chamber and to see the pomace effortlessly pulsing out below.