Saturday, 21 January 2012

The season is finally over...

This was rather a long season of apple pressing! Still, its all done now and I can sit back and enjoy Christmas - well, that and start to plan some improvements for next year!

Getting the Voran press after the start of the season could have perhaps been better - it took a week to get it into place, and a further week to change the motor to work on non industrial electricity supply. And then the process of learning what it was capeable of and how that would affect the rest of the pressing process had to take place on the job. And it does change rather a lot! I now have to go through my list of modifications, cost them up and make sure they are done before next September.

So, sitting here in the warm (at last) and allowing the aches to recover I can now report that in all there is:

  • 1650 litres - Hampshire Heritage Cider

Fermenting gently in a Rotoplas tank (all together). This year, there were 18 different varieties pressed; 48% cider (mostly bittersweet), 51% desert and 1% sharp. There is no Bramley used at all which should allow the more delicate but fragrant acids in the desert fruit to come through better.

  • 1000 litres - Wild West Cider

 Not quite as much as I had hoped this year, but an IBC full nonetheless! This year I have used a wider variety of cider fruit (last years contained too much heavy tannin from the Chisel Jersey); 76% cider, 10% desert and 14% sharp varieties used. Whilst I am hoping to round off some of the harsher tannins I still want to achieve a fully western style of cider - just the best western style of cider I can produce!

  • 1600 litres - Eastern Delight Cider

This is the experiment from last year - 300 litres of a fully eastern style of cider. I anticipated it being a little less acceptable to customers than the western cider - what with most supermarkets being full of this kind of thing (well, variations on a theme I think!). However, it went down far too well and was almost all sold out within a month.

For the 2011 season, I had to introduce another supplier which came in the form of Hill Farm Orchards (about 10 miles from where I live in Hampshire). These guys supply fruit for the Capella brand of juice and also for the locally acclaimed 'Hill Farm Juice'. In honesty, I simply couldn't increase production for Eastern Delight without it - Fruitwise only have so much fruit available! And so, this year there is a stack of Russets from Hill Farm and a good measure of Cox too.

My aim with Eastern Delight is to demonstrate a high quality full juice Eastern style of cider from properly ripe heritage varieties of fruit. I don't want to use Tesco fruit and I don't want bin ends. Having pressed it I am happy that the quality is still there and am really looking forward to this drink.

  • 65 litres - 'Batch 15' Special Cider

I am not sure how much of this will get out to customers. It was such a good blend of fruit that I had to keep some aside - mainly as a contender for my competition entry of 2012. There is an excellent balance in the three varieties; Blenheim Orange (almost overipe desert apple with lots of sugar and a mild acid), Harry Masters Jersey (moderate bittersweet cider apple) and Taylors Sweet (a sweet cider apple with a really nice character and not much acid). 

Of course, the test is in the tasting once its all fermented, but I reckon that I have been very lucky in the varieties and quality of apples available this year - so lets hope that it results in some cracking cider!