The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Homebrew, cordials, cheese, dehydrating, smoking and soap making. An area for all problems to be asked, tips to be given and procedures shared.
User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #275340 Casper
Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:02 am

Image

Earlier this year I was involved with the Food Champions scheme run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and attended a grafting course with other members of local community orchards. The course was fantastic and gave me the skills to take cuttings from exisiting fruit trees and to 'graft' these onto suitable roots and to grow them on before planting out.

It's a fantastic skill to learn, especially if you have an older apple tree in your garden that you would like to keep in the form of a brand new tree with the same desired fruit on it. It may be a family heirloom tree that could remain 'living' for many years to come.

Image

A few years back when I began to become more involved with everything apple I wrote an article which was published in Living Woods magazine titled 'The Art of Grafting'.

If you have considered having a go yourself at grafting fruit trees please  get in touch where I can send you the original article with instructions on how to successfully graft your own apple tree.

Image

Purchasing lime for the field was quite expensive but it's the small achievements that have made this journey so enjoyable and today I've found that those tiny influences have worked wonders.

The lime I added was needed to correct the pH levels in the soil and a few months back I danced around the field broadcasting lime powder left and right in rows. I knew that apple trees prefer a very slightly acidic soil and that this field was just too low for them, at around 5.90 pH.

So that was then and I thought that this small amount of powder wouldn't do too much. I've just performed a soil test taken from the orchard field this week, I have to say I'm delighted with the results.

From the photo above you can see that the pH has been adjusted to almost 7.0pH with a slight orange tint in the test tube which puts it nearer the 6.5 mark....fantastic! This means that I can sit tight for the remainder of the summer and will re-test the soil nearer to planting time where I may need to add just a touch more lime in the planting holes.

It just leaves the other small task of weed control....I'm attempting to keep the field as organic as possible so this means rolling up my sleeves and giving each weed a stern talking to.

Image
Thistle pulling in the early morning June heat wave
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

aln
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun May 12, 2013 10:59 pm

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #275787 aln
Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:48 am

Great stuff! I look forward to tasting the results of your efforts.

User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #275800 Casper
Thu Aug 08, 2013 6:31 pm

Great, another customer!

Or chief sample taster?!
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #276356 Casper
Sun Sep 15, 2013 9:52 am

Image

Picture courtesy of http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/


Today has been quite eventful, so to think things through I've decided to stock up on a few bottles of local cider....it's helping to lubricate the gears,

The photo above is taken from the local newspaper and shows the residents of the village where my new orchard will be based. It seems that a development is planned for the area and unfortunately I was completely unaware that this had become an issue. I live some 20 miles from the village and visit only at weekends when I get the opportunity and have yet been able to bump into any local folk. There's been a couple of interested people who I've had the pleasure to talk to about my fruit plans, the local horse owner and another resident who lives near my Grandfathers old farm.

So, here's what the grapevine has told me:

A public display of a 35 acre proposed industrial park development was on show at the beginning of July. The new development, on greenbelt land will back onto the village, right next to my orchard. This is prime, untouched and historic agricultural land.

Here's the article : http://www.wiltshiretimes.co.uk/news/10 ... ral_idyll/

I'm keeping an open mind at present as it's just in the preliminary stages and outline permission is yet to be granted. Overall, this shouldn't affect the orchard too much, though I held plans for a tranquil setting for the trees, as a place of beauty with far reaching views. This may now change as the industrial units will be within 40 metres of my hedge boundary. I will however benefit from a line of trees, which would make a useful wind break if they choose suitable varieties. It may be time to phone up a planner or two.

My other concerns are all the additional things that come with a working industrial park, namely: Noise, Traffic, Lighting, Security, Waste disposal.

But most importantly, I am concerned for the local residents, who have been there many years and have to suddenly deal with this change to their landscape and homes. I hope to become more involved with their cause and to understand their stories.

So, watch this space.....it's only 6 months in and may all change.

Image
'Back of a cigarette packet' diagram - the final layout (click for larger version)

Back to business

So, I can't stop now, even though there may be a change in the future I've already started that apple snowball. I'll be carrying on as normal. Heck, there's trees waiting for me at the nursery!

Today I headed to the field and carrying a bundle of bamboo canes under my arms began to measure the field for the final spacings of the apple trees. It was fun to do, to see the orchard develop in stick-form. I could visualise the final layout and also make crucial adjustments and feel pretty satisfied that this is the final design:

2 orchard 'fields' - separated by a central access strip
4 rows in each 'field'
20 trees in each row
40 local varieties
120 cider varieties
a few 'sneaked in' crab apples - for pollination
This may all seem a bit fastidious, and you're right, but it enables me to carefully plan for every penny spent as the budget is quite limited and it is just a hobby at present, with high hopes!

....And finally, every cloud..:

Image
The willow looks upright but has fallen into the orchard field


I had planned for a delightful relaxing area near the stream in the orchard beneath the willow tree. Alas, due to the dry, hot weather the mighty tree has fallen. It's huge, and will be sorely missed. I took a close look at the remaining trunk and it was very rotten, to the core but with a busy bumble bee nest inside (useful pollinators for the apple trees!)

Earlier in the week I had been researching suitable mulching materials for the apple trees once I planted them. I think my solution has naturally presented itself - this tree will have enough wood chip to mulch the entire orchard, I couldn't have predicted that!
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #276802 Casper
Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:59 pm

Image

Since the last blog post I've been sifting through hundreds of apple varieties trying to decide upon which mix of trees we'll plant this winter.

In order to create a well balanced and cider full of flavour and depth it is important to use a range of apples containing certain qualities. If you were to create a cider from one type of apple such as Bramley or a small selection of eating apples the resulting drink won't hold any interest. It would no doubt be alcoholic but may taste 'thin' and insipid.

Parts of the UK use whatever apples they can lay their hands on, using mainly sweet and sharp apples. But here in the west country we are blessed with the right conditions to grow a diverse range of cider apples. We utilise a more bitter apple.

When you bite into a cider apple fresh from the tree you may be disgusted by its tart taste. It may be like a crab apple, not very palatable. But this quality is perfect for cider. Known as a 'sharp' apple it holds flavours and tannins that give westcountry cider it's developed and deep flavour.

Other ranges of apples are noted as being either 'bittersharp' or 'bittersweet'. By selecting apples from a range of these qualities the subsequent drink has a certain matured flavour.
The real art in cidermaking is getting this mix right and blending the apples either at the time of pressing or mixing juices from storage units.

The trick for me is to get this blend correct at the start, to plant apple trees from a range of sharps to sweets and to suit my taste and the taste of the public. Fortunatly I have a source of other apples which are non-cider varieites and these will provide an additional taste to the cider. The resulting drink could have many hundreds of combinations of flavour!


So in brief, choose a selection of trees which are 'sweet', 'sharp', 'bittersweet' and 'bittersharp'.




Time for shopping:

My initial selection of trees are from the excellent Adams Apples (http://www.talatonplants.co.uk/) who are based in Honiton, Devon. I've used these guys in the past and some trees I purchased from them 5 years ago are thriving in a small orchard near Bath.

Here's the selection due for delivery this December:

Yarlington Mill - bittersweet
Evereste (crab)
Black Dabinett - bittersweet
Browns - sharp

These are two year old trees and give a good head start to the orchard. There are 21 trees in total with another 40 varieties of eating apple being planted this winter.

The following year (December 2014) I will be receiving the following trees, another 45 in total:

Camelot - bittersharp
Somerset Redstreak - bittersweet
Ellis Bitter - bittersweet
Northwood - sweet
Major - bittersweet
Stoke Red - bittersharp
Frederick - sharp
John Downie (crab)

So, over this two year period a total of 106 trees will be planted with a view to add another 45 in the field on the following year. This cider orchard is a slow, drawn out process but one I'm happy to take my time over. These trees will take at least 5 years before they start to properly crop and within 10 years should be providing much more fruit.

As I wait for the trees to grow I'll continue to research (and moslty sample) the world of cider as much as possible. I'm in the process of planning for other orchards as well as acquiring premises to process the fruit
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #276803 Casper
Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:01 pm

Image

The cider trees will soon be collected from the nursery and will take at least 5 years before they begin to produce a heavy crop of apples. In the meantime we've been acquiring (scrumping) apples from other sources and using the existing orchard to produce some first pressings of juice.

The main apple in this 3 part mix is Bramley with the other two being a bit of a mystery - though the juice they provided was a vibrant golden amber colour and had a fine sweetness with a 'bite' of acidity. Very delicious!

Our fruit press is being put through its paces and we estimate that its yielding only around 50% juice from each press - so an upgrade is due and also a more robust pulper, to mash up the apples.

We add a touch of vitamin C to the apple juice to retain its golden colour and once pasteurised can be stored for about a year. Next plan is to have a tasting session from different mixes of juice to see which is preferred...though I'm quite partial to them all!
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/

User avatar
Casper
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Jerry - Bit higher than newbie
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:11 pm
Location: Bath
Contact:

Re: The Cider Journey - Creating a new local drink!

Post: #276805 Casper
Fri Nov 15, 2013 6:03 pm

Image

Tomorrow is Christmas for me. That's the day when I will be collecting the first batch of apple trees that were kindly grafted at Barters nursery in Chapmanslade, Wiltshire.

I'm quite fortunate in my day job as a gardener to be able to discover unique fruits in the countryside. The photo above shows a medlar fruit, an interesting ancient delight made popular by the Victorians and these particular medlars are one of my favourites.



They are best harvested once soft, almost rotten - an unusual process known as 'bletting'. The fruits up to this point are hard and inedible but left longer to linger on the tree and after a good frost the fruit inside becomes like a smooth delicious paste. The medlar makes a stunning jam and would have graced the breakfast tables of rich country estates across the UK.
As with apples the medlar trees are abundant this year with almost every twig bearing fruit. It is a shame though to disocver that due to redevelopment in the grounds where it exisits this particualr ancioent tree has an uncertain future and it may be the last year it will fruit.


Image
A bumper harvest!


I manage a few established orchards locally and have seen a wide range of heavy cropping trees this year. Some branches have almost touched the floor in some cases - which can make for easier picking! I'm always amazed by the vast diversity of the apple in terms of colour, size, shape and flavour. It's astonishing to think we only have approximately 5 or 6 varieties commonly available in supermarkets when we have access to hundreds of native apples across the country. Part of the reason I started this project was to re-address this situation and to see if I could save some of the heritage varieties from my county - after all, it's about provenance.

People living locally should enjoy their local types of apple either to eat or drink in the form of juice and cider. The trees I am collecting tomorrow are the start of this exciting venture into good local food.

Like the medlar tree above, many local fruit trees have an uncertain future. This could be through neglect or redevelopment or perhaps not just 'fitting in' with a particular garden design. The trees I am planting will provide fruit to turn into juice over a 30 year period but by also taking grafting wood from each one I can extend their characteristics over many more decades.

Image


The tree pictured above is a recent discovery found in a semi-derelict walled garden which I am in the process of helping to restore. Its fate is also uncertain but its fruits are incredible!

It's a cooker for sure. One of the largest cooking apples I have ever seen and the tree managed to handle these hefty fruits with ease - no broken boughs or complaining branches (see the picture below - it's not photo
shopped!)

Image

Every apple tree has the potential to provide wood that could be grafted on to new rootstock and this can enable hundreds of people to choose what variety they would prefer. Apple trees can then be planted in the garden, nurtured to maturity and unique to that particular individual or family - no more settling on generic supermarket apples - you can eat what you really enjoy. Sorry granny smith.
A journey to create a new local artisan cider - http://ciderjourney.blogspot.co.uk/


Return to “Home Brew and other Country Skills”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests