Monday, 31 August 2009

Cider making day - Kentish Scrumpy

How lazy have I been over the last few months. I haven't updated this is ages. There has been loads going on in the garden, but we've been too busy eating to blog. Loads of soups from the garden, and almost every meal has consisted of something from the garden. Its been a great year so far, and we have learnt lots for next year. I shall try to do an update later, but I wont promise anything.

We've also been making loads of country wines. Here in Kent we are incredibly lucky with the hedgerow bounty thats on offer. First we made a cherry plum wine, then blackberry wine, and then damson wine. We also have sloe gin on the go, and lots of it.

Whilst driving about I like to keep an eye on whats growing along the lanes. I watched the cherry plums grow, and then after we had picked bags of them I saw the damsons and sloes come along. At the same time I found that there are loads of wild apple trees growing in the hedgerows. There are also a few pear trees about. I had a good week of browsing google trying to find if there was any easy way of turning this into cider. Phillipa and myself do enjoy drinking the fermented apple juice, and making our own seemed like the best thing in the world. After evenings of watching videos on you tube I decided that making my own cider press was not really that stupid an idea.
I had a load of wood that I could make a frame from in the garden, and i managed to pick up some old beech work surface from a boot fair. I then bought a car jack from ebay, and I just needed a free afternoon to make the frame.

So, anyway the frame was built, and the story continues in pictures from here....

I had lots of trees mapped out all over Swale, and the first step was for us to collect them. This mostly consisted of me scarpering up trees, throwing apples at Phillipa. It was fun, its normally her throwing things at me...!!

Then when we got home, we quartered the apples, removing any bruised area, and any creepy crawlies that had made their home in the apples. This was actually quite frequent to my delight, as Phillipa screamed everytime she found a maggot or earwig. Actually it was not good finding them, but it was funny hearing Phillipa squark with fear everytime she saw one...!

As they were quartered they were put through the shredder on the food processor. We would then wrap 2 loads of apples in net curtain. We found that putting this in a cake tin made a good mold for pressing.

I had bought a cheap roasting tin. Drilling a hole in the side of the tin, and putting a length of piping ensured that the juice extracted could run out where I wanted it.

I then placed a small chopping board on top of the apples, and then the beech board ontop of that. A length of wood and the car jack were then added, and the car jack was pumped up.

After a few pumps the apple juice would start to run out of the pipe, and into the bucket underneath

Out it comes :)

I would tilt the whole contraption forward to make sure that I got all of the juice that had been extracted

It was suprising how much we would get out of the apples. Cooking apples give a much lighter juice than sweet eating apples. We used a mixture of about 45% each of these types of apples, and about 10 % pears. It tasted good as juice, and looks like it will ferment out at about 9% alcohol

This is a pressed apple cake after being pressed. All of this has gone into the compost bin

A few hours later and we had 2 gallons of juice reading for bottling.

I have added one campden tablet to each demijohn. They are currently wrapped in the heat belt. If in a few days they haven't started to ferment I shall add a little yeast.

This should be ready to drink at about Christmas, and seeing that Phillipa and I have set the tradition of drinking cider and eating cheese on Christmas eve this seems like perfect timing. I just now need to work out how to make cheese :)