There are hundreds of different varieties of apples and pears; eaters, cookers, cider apples and perry pears. This selection is from an exhibition at The Cider Museum, Hereford.
First collect a lot of fruit. If you can’t reach all the apples and pears, send someone up the tree with a long stick to shake the fruit off the branches. It’s called a panking pole.
When you have a lot of fruit, no really, a lot of fruit, give it a wash and get rid of all the leaves and twigs that have collected with it. This isn’t nearly enough apples, and they are mostly Bramleys. Send your pickers back out to the orchard to collect some more desert and cider apples. At this point you might want to set aside half a dozen Bramleys for later (see below!)
Ask your helpers nicely, to chop the fruit into quarters so that it doesn’t clogg the mincing machine, which is called a Scratter.
In our early days of cider making, we used a hand-cranked scratter, which was very hard work and time consuming. Now we have a lovely motor driven version, designed and built by our talented neighbour.
Now it’s time to pack the fruit pulp into the press and extract the juice. Wrap the pulp in cloth to strain out any bits of minced fruit. Each layer is called a ‘cheese’. Stack them up until the press is full, then start to increase the pressure which will squeeze the juice from the pulp.
These are our two smaller presses, all the pulp goes into one mesh ‘cheese’ bag. We use these for smaller quantities of desert apples and crab apples that we use for blending.
Collect the juice, and leave it to ferment under airlock for several months.
Remember the Bramleys you set aside earlier? Peel and chop them roughly, dip in batter and deep fry to make Apple Fritters. Sprinkle them with sugar while they are still hot; crispy outside, and light fluffy apple inside, a delicious treat after all the hard work.