Tuesday 8 February 2011

February Catch Up...

The headlines:

- Pruning the 146 micro orchard and adding to its small number

- Fermentations – slow and slower

- 7 year old makes ginger wine (with a hint of chilli)

- And finally, don't forget the Gosport Winterfest!

Okay – I should have warned you not to get too excited by it! Well, it is winter after all!

Pruning the 146 micro orchard and adding to its small number

Winter is the time for tree management. This is essential for tons of reasons, for which I am probably not the best reference. Take a look at Stephen Hayes Youtube site to see what I mean. As the trees in the micro orchard are only 3 years old, pruning helps form a decent tree shape – a good form will optimise the amount of fruit a tree bears as well as making future maintenance easier.

At the moment, there are 6 trees in the orchard. These include a high quality desert apple (Ashmeads Kernel) and a very mildly acid cooking apple (James Grieve). These will ultimately form a base for a special ‘limited’ cider that I want to make in a few years. To build on this, there are currently four lesser known cider apple trees; a full bittersharp, two full bittersweets, and a medium and mild bittersweet. My hope is that these rare varieties will bring something extra to the cider that cannot be found elsewhere.

To this, I have a couple of Dabinetts that I want to plant shortly. Many cider makers are happy to make Dabinett single variety cider; and its not bad. However, for my purpose it is a good variety to provide a quality bulk to the blend.

It is also another variety to play around with.

Fermentations – Slow and slower

February is turning out to be warmer than last year, so although the cider got off to a slow start, the fermentation tanks are keeping busy. A friend from the Cider Workshop has a live webcam linked to his tanks, so you can witness in real time the wonders of fermentation! To be honest, cider fermentation is really not that much of an event in itself.

The Hampshire Heritage is just about finished (I am cleaning the storage tanks as I write) and the 146 Eastern is just nudging below 1010 (that will take about 14 days to finish). Only the 146 Western seems to be stubbornly stuck in the 1020’s. This is the batch that concerned me the most when planning the blend of sharp/sweet and bitter – there is less than 10% sharps (as per a traditional west country cider) so it was always going to be the most unpredictable fermentation this year.

7 year old makes ginger wine (with a hint of chilli)

So, its not all cider here! Following a successful batch of ginger wine (which was given mostly as Christmas presents for my daughters nurses and friends) we decided to give it another go. The recipe is simple and (loosely) based on a 1968 recipe in “Home Wine and Beer Making” – although we took some liberties with the recipe to produce something a little more special. I will post separately (although, lets face it, this is a cider website/blog!)

And finally - dont forget the Gosport Winterfest

Order is in and the cider is... well... still sat in storage for the moment. However, the Gosport Winterfest starts on Friday 25th February at the Thorngate Halls in Gosport. See the South East Hampshire CAMRA website for details.

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