It’s the booze making time of year again. It all seems to need to be done at once, so this year I’m splitting up the cider making with a bit of grape pressing.
We have had an excellent crop of Tom Putt apples (as recommended by the Marcher Apple Network) this time round – it all depends on the weather at pollination time – but we have also been given a load of what look like mainly cookers by our friend Linda. The Tom Putt’s weighed in at just under 100lb, though it might have been a lot more if the badger hadn’t spent every night nicking the windfalls. Linda’s weighed about the same, so we should get around 7-8 gallons in total. I’ve also done a small amount using just crab apples, either to blend in or as a probably very dry cider.
To do it in this sort of bulk a few bits of kit are preferable. Firstly a press and secondly a scratter. Many moons ago I made a wonderfully efficient press, but unfortunately it got lost in the move from Kent to here – I think it got sold erroneously at the farm sale. So this set up is from Vigo Presses.
So first set up the scratter on the press:
In go the apples, just as they come off the tree or the ground:
Turn the handle a few (well quite a lot of) times:
.. and this is what you get
Apply some serious effort to the screw thread and the juice flows.
After the juice has finished running, remove the pomace (technical term for this stuff)..
… which then go onto the compost heap
Take the pressed juice into the house and place beside the Esse for a week or so until the fermentation (from the natural yeasts on the skins) has died down. Depending on quantity now bottle it or store in plastic polypins which deform as the cider is drawn off, keeping air out.
Now comes the final and most difficult bit. Sit and watch it for a month or six whilst it clears naturally and the flavour develops.
Then, as the old Wurzels song says, “Drink up ye zider, George, there’s still more in the jug”.
Grapes go very much the same way, except for killing off the natural yeasts, which are unreliable for wine, adding fresh yeast and sufficient sugar as there is rarely enough in home grown grapes to make a sufficiently robust wine that will keep.
Another great crop this year of the red, but virtually nothing on the white again. Its days may be numbered!