Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pressing Matters of a Cider Nature

Saturday 19th May 2012
There's a sun rising out there somewhere.
Below a copy of the article I have written for the FGSC (Fenland Goatkeepers and Smallholders Club) newsletter on the cider making day run by Roger and Janet.

On the morning of Saturday 19th May a motley and disparate crew, rubber gloves at the ready, descended on deepest Wisbech, lured by the promise of bountiful apple juice.(Nothing to do with the potential for turning it into cider, of course!) But it wasn't long before Roger had them whipped into shape and working like a well-oiled machine.

After a quick briefing they were off, eagerly chopping, bashing and pressing. In no time at all the chopping team, Sam, Ed and Sue, were making headway into that truckload of Bramleys.

Bucketloads of chopped apples moved along the line to the scratting team, Charlotte, John and another Sue. Equipped with hoes, border spades and biceps, those apples had no chance.

Then onto Roger to feed them through the adapted shredder into nets where they queued to go under the strain of the press, a monster piece of evolution from which flowed, during the course of the day, 130 litres of juice.

Ruth was the first apple press trainee, ably helped by the expert, Keith (his red bobble hat kept popping up in my photos). After the first pressing, Ruth was a fully qualified apple presser ready to pass her knowledge on to the next young (?!) trainee.

And this was the delightful thing about the day. Everybody got to have a good bash at every job. Roger was always there to help smooth the production line and answer everybody's questions. 

He had put a lot of thought into organising the day so that nobody missed out on anything. We were even trusted with the monster that was the apple press.

To give our aching arms a rest, every now and then Roger stopped and gave us more snippets of wisdom. We learned how to make and store apple juice as well as how to turn the juice we'd so energetically squeezed out of those apples into something more potent, cider, wine or cider vinegar. For the technically minded, there was advice on how to construct an apple press and how to turn a cheap shredder into a most effective apple pulper.

Janet kept our thirst quenched with teas and coffees and organised a marvellous spread for lunch. Everybody had brought something along and it was wonderful to enjoy such a feast of home grown, home reared and home cooked produce.

And best of all, at the end of the day we got to purchase a good quantity of our freshly squeezed apple juice for the princely sum of 31p a litre.

Oh...and we got to try a small tipple of cider too!

But happiest of all were these little fellows, who tucked in enthusiasticaly to the left over apple pulp - no waste here.

Our very special thanks go to Roger and Janet for their warmest of welcomes and for sharing their wealth of experience. Also to Keith for giving his time, sharing his experience and helping us with the cider press.

This day was a great way to get to know new people and was a great community activity. I can see cider bashes really taking off!

Off now to check on that fermenting apple juice...

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