Thursday 26 August 2010

Revving up to the new season...

So, the pressing season is nearly upon us!! - I like 146 to capture the whole of the season, so although the early fruit neither contributes a lot to the taste of the cider (early apples tend to be thin and low in sugars) they provide a good starting fermentation to 'share' with the later pressings. Also, because of the dry year we have had so far, I do expect to encounter problems with high sugar levels in the main crop. High sugars mean high abv, and anything about 8.5% is liable for duty at a high level (the cider effectively becomes classed as 'made wine'). So the early fruit may help temper this a bit.

So, the plan this year? The plan is to produce 2-2500 litres of full juice cider. Plus I have a hope to produce a new product too - although Fruitwise has suffered some setbacks with bugs that have lowered the expected crop levels which may affect this. I have no wish to change this blend which I like (and many others do to, as it is proving!), but if needs must...

As I do have a full time job, and ironically one of the busy periods of the year is during the cider season, I don't expect to get much more time to collect and press apples than last year. Pressing for longer, into November and towards Christmas, is the main answer and should also give the apples more time to ripen properly. Don't believe the 'straight from the orchard to the press' rubbish that some advertisers would have you believe! It may work like that for some 'brands' but to craft a full juice cider, the fruit is left to fully ripen first... some Somerset farmers would say its not ready till some are black!

The other tactic has been to buy a second press. Producing volume on your own is all about optimising time - but the tricky bit is not to cut corners in the process! Using two presses in tandem should deliver 300 litres in a full day of pressing, whereas this was 150 litres last year. The other press is a proper, Goodnature press, which uses a manually operated hydraulic ram. Its still a rack and cloth set up, just like the 'Raypress' and it will press roughly the same amount of pomace too. Once it has finished going through its overhaul, that is!

To go along with the planned increase in production, there are now two 1000 litre IBC's embedded at the back of the Cider Garage. These will help blend and mature the cider in bulk with a lot less moving about.

So, thanks to all those who have spent money on 146 cider - its all going back into making more cider and improving practices! All the best:-)

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