One of the great benefits of rural living is growing your own fruit and veg. One of the great drawbacks is knowing what to do with it all once you’ve grown it. I mean, there is only so much you can do with a cucumber! And industrial sized freezers do take up a lot of space.
We have a few apple trees in our garden, all but one inherited from the previous owners, and the one pictured above is a prolific cropper year in and year out. But the apples are an early variety and don’t store well so, unless we eat pounds of apples each day – probably physically possible but medically unwise – we had to find something else to do with this abundance. My husband’s answer: cider.
He’s been making his own cider for a few years now with increasing success, so at the weekend it was all hands on deck to start this year’s process.
First we gather the apples (which means getting daughter up the tree, she’s the only one tall enough and agile enough). We quickly filled three of these green trugs, and still have more to go.
Then the apples are quickly washed before being pulped. We have our own (not patented!) method of pulping our apples. We use the garden shredder! It is simple, but effective, and husband assures me that it is the pulping that makes all the difference to the outcome. More juice is extracted and the finished product is vastly superior (and he should know, he has tried various techniques over the years).
Once the apples are pulped they are put into our small fruit press – an anniversary present to husband four years ago – and the juice is squeezed out. Until he had the fruit press he made a Heath Robinson contraption to squeeze the apples; it was effective but slow and tedious and although it didn’t produce as much juice as the press it does go to show that you don’t necessarily need to have all the right equipment when you start out.
Once you start squeezing then is it merely a case of keeping going until you have enough juice to fill a container of your choice, be it a gallon demi-john or a larger barrel. So far this year we have made seven gallons and have plenty of apples to make the same again. Once you know how much juice you have you then add your sugar and yeast and leave it to ferment. Then, when fermentation has stopped the cider can be filtered into bottles and enjoyed!
FOR ANYONE WHO IS PARTICULARLY INTERESTED IN HUSBAND’S RECIPE FOR CIDER I’LL MAKE IT MY NEXT POST, JUST AS SOON AS I’VE CHECKED WITH HIM TO MAKE SURE I GET IT RIGHT.