Real Cider Making 2010

This page was written in 2010, we now use a far more modern method but the final product still remains the same.

Unlike a large percentage of other Cider makers in the UK we pride ourselves on the process we use, it makes sense to us to keep the traditional methods alive as we end up with a superior quality product.

Collecting Cider Apples
Collecting Cider Apples

The labour intensive job begins with the careful collecting of the apples, this is done by hand (and knee’s) to ensure we collect the best apples available, machine collected apples are badly damaged and mixed in with lumps of mud, animal faeces and stones to mention just a few of the things we do not want in our trailers, the apples are stored in nets rather than bags to allow them to breathe and mature until we are ready to begin Cider making.

The next stage in the production is to mill the apples ready for pressing, this is done using a Victorian scratter mill, it still munches up the apples even when they are frozen solid, the resulting Pummy (pomace) is then transferred to the press where we build the Cheese.

Cider Cheese
Cider Cheese made with Straw

The cheese comprises of layers of top quality straw covered with the Pummy, all of the edges are carefully tucked in to ensure the Pummy stays in place and does not leak out, this is never rushed as we need to keep the cheese upright and level to ensure it does not slide when we begin pulling down, the cheese is trimmed using an old pair of sheep shears to stop the juice dribbling down the loose bits of straw and missing the dish, last thing we need is to lose juice onto the floor.

Modern cider makers use the rack and cloth principle, this invariably imparts a flavour on the finished cider which we find ruins what should be a drink that brings pleasure and not pain.

Cider Apple Juice
Cider Apple Juice

Once we reach the top the cheese is then left to settle for at least a day, oak boards are placed on the top of the cheese and the pressing begins, the old way was to leave it for a few days before the task of pulling down began, this we achieve in about 3 hours today but again the old boys would take at least 3 days, squeeze a little and then let the cheese rest was and still is the only way with straw, no need to rush perfection and we end up with more juice from a slow pressing.

Frozen Cider Barrel
Frozen but still fermenting in the middle.

The freshly squeezed juice is now transferred to our fermentation vessels for the long haul which can take anything up to 6 months, this is totally dependant on the temperature in the shed, with the cold weather we are currently having the barrels are mostly still merrily bubbling away, some however have not yet started but once we get some warmer weather they will quickly catch up.

Once the initial fermentation has finished the cider is racked into freshly emptied Oak barrels to mature, we hope you enjoy it.

Blessed are the Cheesemakers
Blessed are the Cheesemakers!