Weekly Report – 04 October 2020

Question.

What do you do if you own a Carp Fishery, there are no anglers on the lake, and the weather is the worst you have seen for years ??

Answer.

MAKE CIDER

Sort of easy decision really, what else would I do ?

I have planned to start my cider making for the last couple of years but I have never got the idea off-the-ground other than buying the kit that I need.

Last year I had no fruit due to some exceptionally cold weather during the Spring which killed all the blossom before it could be pollinated.

The year before I did my back in and I couldn’t move a muscle for a couple of months.

But this year I had no excuse and decided that the time was right to give it a go !!

I spent weeks tasting the apples on my trees trying to decide when they would be ripe, and which ones were sweet and which were sour, etc. I have never eaten so many apples, but I had made copious notes about each tree for future use, and I have given them numbers for easy reference.

What I soon appreciated, and was very happy about, was they were not all going to ripen at the same time. God knows what I was going to do with them all if they did.

Tree number 1. Day 1 was spent in just one tree which unfortunately I had to share with hundreds of Hornets which were equally intent on getting their share of the apples. I must confess that I was petrified, I had a vision of me being up my ladder when squadrons of these things decided it was time to take their revenge, and, I would be easy prey to some of them which I swear were as big as sparrows. Well, almost!

I put my big baggy overalls on and some very thick gloves, just to afford me some protection. Four hours later the job was done, and I hadn’t been bothered by a single hornet, if the truth be told they had zero interest in me, all they wanted to do was eat apples.

This was my first batch :

Six crates of juicy apples. How much cider this was going to produce I had no idea but by now I was like a kid in a sweetie shop and I couldn’t wait to find out.

At the start of this exercise an old army anagram popped in to mind : PPPPPP

And of course, as usual, I had already applied it : Planning and Preparation, Prevents, Piss, Poor, Performance.

Being true to that principle I had researched how to make hard cider until I was blue in the face. If there is a YouTube video on this subject I have watched it. I was ready to go, the only question now was : would it work ?

First job is wash them, even birds have to do it somewhere :

Next comes the laborious bit, I know a lot of people do not bother with this but I wanted to be as exact as I could, if I made a batch which went wrong I needed to know that I had followed best practise, so every apple had to be cut in half and the core inspected for maggots before being transferred to the the crusher :

Once crushed they then went in to the press :

Now that press might look little but I assure you, physically, it was bloody hard work, it is a 28 litre press, and every full press of apples produced around 2.5 litres of pure apple juice. Absolutely gorgeous stuff, I am lucky that any of it made it past this stage, I have never licked my fingers so many times before.

Each basket of apples produced around 2 presses, meaning each of my 6 baskets produced around 5 litres of juice, giving me a total of 30 litres for two afternoon’s work.

One afternoon picking them, and one afternoon extracting the juice.

30 litres ! In old money that is 60 pints of cider for 2 afternoons graft.

Fair exchange thinks I.

Those simple maths have proven consistent throughout all of my apples, regardless of type and mix of trees, the first 6 crates actually produced 67 pints.

Armed with all of that knowledge I became much more selective about which apples I took from each tree, obviously concentrating on the cleaner bigger fruit. If I was going to take every apple I would have to buy more equipment and importantly more bottles.

After my concentrated effort this week I now have a micro-brewery on the go :

As I write this I have 40 litres bottled and another 60 litres at various stages of fermentation. I have even started to add different sugars to tweak the taste, so at the moment it is all an experiment in the making.

What I have found fascinating is that the initial test of the pure apple juice has shown a potential alcohol content of around 9 percent so I have been watering it down to reduce it to about 6%.

I intend to leave it to mature to Christmas when I intend to have a taste test of each batch to see if it was all worth the effort. Well someone has to !!

There is only one aspect of this that I thought might present a problem and that is the by-product, crushed dried-out apple. :

Initially I thought that I would just have to waste it up in the woods as a manure, but then I thought about it and decided to see if the deer would eat it, after all they are always eating the apples as a result of the wind-fall.

I put the first few barrows on the edge of the tree line opposite the house, just beyond the pond. I wanted to be able to see what came to the feast.

To my surprise everything did, including the deer. Then one of our neighbours took a load and fed it to her chickens and a goat. So, what about giving it to our horses ?

Needless to say, they love it, so Helen took a load to feed to them and we have even put a load in the freezer to save for a rainy day.

So what I perceived as a potential problem has turned out to be an amazing opportunity for the wild-life.

All I can say now is “Roll on Xmas”. If all tastes as good as I hope it does then you will be able to hear me singing carols this year, and I will be increasing my bottle order for next season.

If it doesn’t then there will be some cider making kit going on e-bay.

I will let you know the end result.

There are no anglers on the lake again this week so next weekend I will give you an update on the new Drive & Survive shower block.

Meanwhile keep your heads down and stay safe.

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8 Responses to Weekly Report – 04 October 2020

  1. Keith says:

    Save me a bottle šŸ˜‚

  2. Peter and Annie says:

    Tony- absolutely fascinating- you seem to be able to turn your hand to anything!! Hope you’re both keeping well? We are fine except that Anne has a very painful back- awaiting an MRI scan.
    Love from us both Peter.

    • Tony says:

      Morning Peter, very nice to hear from you. I do try Peter but the proof of the pudding will be in the tasting, fingers crossed. Give our love to Annie and hope she gets well soon, backs can be an awful thing, I know all too well. Take care of yourselves, Tony and Helen

  3. bazza1234 says:

    Well done Tony, If the cider turns out nice do have one for me as I like a glass or two of cider.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. Andrew Smith says:

    Nice one Tony. Going to have to think about booking earlier in the year. Itll all be gone by next September

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