We have been planning a cider weekend for a while, but family commitments delayed the day until this last weekend (8th October)...we really should have harvested last weekend or even the weekend before. Thankfully the lovely warm and dry October days have really benefited the apples, but we watched the windy storm blow through from the East with trepidation.
We feared not...Saturday came with family descending to help along (cider making is labour intensive)
The workforce was divided into teams (mostly migrant and of course all on zero hours)
- pickers&washers ...happy amongst the branches, laying out blankets, shaking trees, gathering windfall. First wash in dilute Milton, then rinse in fresh water
- choppers....somehow all the women seemed to congregate to this chore, and spent most of the time chatting and laughing together (see pics below!!)
- mincing and pressing...the chopped apples were pushed through a (cheap) garden shredder, into muslin bags, and into the press.
But.enough of wasting juice....start filling the buckets with juice for CIDER !!!!!
and so the production line sings along.....literally when the music starts..Otis Redding, Gladys Knight and the ......
Pick, barrow, wash , rinse, chop, pulp, press, store...over and over again
A moment to discuss Pips...one year I mashed whole apples...the first tasting was distinctly almondy.....a little research alerted me to the content of apple pips.......Cyanide.
Probably not enough to poison you, but enough to taste the cider...so from now on we chop and de-pip.
Five hours work - 8 people on hand... and 60 litres of juice produced.
We have about 6 different apple varieties, which I know the names of none, but I know the taste , productivity and texture of all.
My favourite 3...on the left a big juicy and sweet apple...produces lots of juice
in the middle, the purple, crispy, dry apple, with the fur of wild yeast
On the right, my favourite, a wonderful russet with a crisp, juicy, slightly sweet taste
Our son Thomas, is doing a degree in Bio-Chemistry, and is studying yeast DNA. According to Thom commercial/industrial yeasts are grown to produce one thing....alchohol, but wild yeasts may produce other products...like CO2...oops !!! we will see.....its an experiment.
5 litres of the single apple..55 litres of mixed apples with added , cider specific yeast.
This sounds like an industrial enterprise, but it is nothing of the sort....The cider is just the end product. This is primarily a family/friends/community event.
Acknowlegding and using the fruits of these wonderful trees.
Working and laughing together
Tasting the produce of your efforts
Storing.processing, brewing and storing the cider
And finally ...in months and years to come enjoying thefruits of this labour, with friends family and neighbours.