The glut of apples and fruit from the secret orchard has made us explore what opportunities there are for ‘making’ stuff.
One of my friends suggested cider as there are more apples than anything else.
I did a bit of research and took various pieces of advice but effectively, there are certain essential bits of kit that you need and can’t really start without.
The basic requirements are apples (obviously), storage jars, a pulper, a press and cider yeast.
So off I went surfing the internet for some of this kit that would enable me to get started.
Pulping apples is quite hard it would seem as they are reluctant to release their precious juices. So instead of trying to do this by hand I opted to buy a ‘pulpmaster’ which chops the apples up in a bucket and done with the aid of a drill. I bought a hydrometer which is essential but I don’t really understand what it does yet. I got some valves that allow the fizzy pressure to release whilst the cider is fermenting. I bought yeast to help it ferment long with steriliser and cleaning brushes to clean my bottles and finally, the all important book on how to use all this equipment!
A bit more research revealed that it would be possible to make a fruit press at home and I was hopeful that we would do that one weekend when we got some spare time.
We picked the apples and stored them for a 2 week rest that allows the sugar to develop and in turn helps with the alcohol levels and the flavour. Taking a steady approach we thought that 2 sacks of apples would be a good start and not too daunting a task.
JC did manage to convince me that I would be waiting a very long time if I was hoping for a made a fruit press at home and that I couldn’t really progress with my fledgling attempts to make cider if I didn’t actually invest in a press.
I did a bit more internet surfing but it was one of those things that I wanted to see so when JC came across a stainless steel fruit press in a shop in Louth, JC marched me off to the till and he carried it off to the car for me. It is a thing of great beauty but I now have to make a total of £200 worth of cider to break even!!! That is a lot of cider and not quite in line with my ‘food for free’ philosophy.
Not to be daunted by the overspend, JC & I had a go this weekend and, like anything you want to get from nature yourself, it requires a lot of effort. We spent about 3 hours chopping, pulping, pressing and bottling.
It is quite exciting, though, when you see the first of the juice flowing from the press spout into a demijohn.
The juice is cloudy and not at all what we expected but we have done as instructed and set up the bottled juice with a cotton wool bung to be left for a few days and we have added the yeast.
There is evidence that it is changing already; It is clearing slightly and there is a muddy sediment on the bottom of the bottle and a distinct froth on the top. This is all to be expected it would seem.
We only have a single gallon of juice from our efforts yesterday but we hope it is the first of many!
The pulp left over from the our juicing has gone to feed our neighbours chickens and I think we are up on that exchange since we got 6 lovely tasty eggs in return. Perhaps it won’t take us as long as we thought to break even on our overspend…………………………….