CIDER 102 “From bare soil to juice”
Choice of Apples:
Cider is best made from a blend of apples. The bulk are usually cider apples (noted for acidity and tannins) blended with Bramleys (or other acidic cooking apples) and some desert apples (noted for sweetness and perfumes. Granny & Grandad probably won’t have cider varietys so its all about blending desert and sweet apples. Try say 25% Bramley to 75% desert.
Ideally wait for the apples to fall off by themselves as then they are ripe. You can speed up a bit by shaking the tree/branches. Spread sheets/tarpaulins under the tree to ease picking up! If you hand pick then the apples will not be fully ripe (Note to perry makers: You pick the pears before they are fully rip!).
You should easily get about 50 kgs per tree! (Typically 3 or 4 kg of apples will yield 1 litre of juice).
Most cider makers then store the apples for 1 2 or more weeks to allow the apples to soften, this increases the extraction facility.
The big day:
Now comes the day of pressing:
Wash the apples in clean water. Some people add Campden (sodium metabisulphite) tablets. I save them for later. See below!
Now the apples are inspected – the odd bruise and scab is not a problem but codling moth is. If the trees are old and neglected then they may harbour codling moth grubs. As the big apples have to be quartered to go through the scratter you will see if there are unwanted guests in the core.
I throw the quartered apples into sulphited water as it helps to stop them going brown.
The apples now have to reduced to a coarse pulp. The device that does this is called a scratter.
They can be bought or home made. Some people just put them through a cheap clean garden shredder. As you have so many apples then a scratter is definely needed.
Again for this you are going to need a press. Size does matter!
There are screw presses to buy or make.
There are hydraulic presses to make (use a lorry jack for example).
You add the pulp (called pomace) into a press bag and press away.
Check Cider 101 for instructions on what to do next.
As this is your first time and the press and scratter are expensive (€300 to 400€ to buy) or time consuming to make when the time comes get in touch with someone who has the kit and lives near you and then the pair of you harvest the apples, procces them and then split the juice.