Last October we had lots of apples growing on the farm that were neither eaters or cookers.
Traditionally we would give them away to a friend who made cider and in return we’d receive a few bottles the next year.
But, due to a change of circumstances, we had no one to give them to last year. I didn’t want to see them go to waste so we decided to try and make our own press to produce our own cider.
After a lot of trial and error (and temporary fixes) we made a press that worked very efficiently. It’s powered by the tractor, using a hydraulic ram.
Over the course of two days we managed to pick all the apples on the farm – some trees had no fruit at all and others were laden. There were crab apples, wild apples, eating apples and cooking apples.
They were pressed in five batches and bottled in airtight containers with airlocks.
Fermenting took a very long time (months not days) and for part of it the smell of sulphur (a common sign of fermentation) could be smelt seeping from the cupboard under the stairs.
Although we could have bottled it months ago, when fermentation stopped, we got round to it this weekend.
After saving and storing bottles for months, they were sterilised and the cider was syphoned off and bottled for maturing.
We have ended up with more than 70 litres which is pretty good going.
All of the batches taste different, some are drier than others and some need sweetening, which we will do in a week or so with sugar and yeast – this will also make it fizzy.
One of the batches has turned to cider vinegar because some air got into the container during storage. I’m more than happy with this though as I can use it for cooking.
The cider will now sit for anything from a couple of months to a year to mature.
In the meantime the trees are laden with even more apples this year – even ones that have not produced fruit for years are full – it will be another busy pressing in October!