Cider Plans for 2016

Having watched various apples falling over the last few weeks, it’s time again to make cider plans – hurrah! We’ve started supplying a local farm shop with apples and pears – only around 3-4 kg a week, but it’s a wonderful feeling to finally start spreading the fruity love locally! The wonderful thing is that we swap it for some local meat, which keeps those food miles low and the taste is definitely worth it. The pears in particular seemed to go down well – the first basket was Beth, an extremely juicy variety whose development was impeded by the outbreak of WW2 and was only finally brought to market in the mid 1970s! And the second variety was Beurre Hardy, and old French variety from the early 1800s – a large and buttery pear with a slight hint of rose water. Like all good quality pears, they should be picked and left to ripen indoors for 2-3 days – it’s a nack we’ve forgotten in this age of supermarket shopping, but believe me, the taste difference is incredible!

Anyway – on to the important matters in hand – cider! We’ve two cider trees with a decent crop this year – Dabinett and Tremlett’s Bitter, so I’ve tried to team them up with equally as laden trees, one cooker and one eater each. Importantly, these two complimentary trees also have to mature at a similar time, or at the least, last well off the tree until pressing time. The final result is, in theory, with no scrumping from anyone else, three separate ciders – two incorporating the cider apples and one the more east counties traditional of two thirds eater to one thirds cooker. Below are the varieties, their use, and their orchard location number (so I know where to visit to pick!). I’ve also added a guess as to apple numbers – ‘lots’ means more than 100. Before you laugh your socks off, this is only the trees’ sixth year, fifth in the ground here, so next year should be even better! Cider plans 2017 will hopefully be even more of an adventure!


Cider 1 – mid October pressing

Tremlett’s Bitter (cider) – A2 – pick early Oct (some are already on the ground) – lots
Lord Derby (culinary) – C4 – pick late September – lots
Ellison’s Orange (dessert) – C6 – pick mid to late September – lots
Forfar (culinary/dessert) – H4 – pick early October (only 20 or so of these so just chucking them in!)


Cider 2 – late October pressing – “Tally Ho!” (our random cider for 2016)

Harvey (culinary) – H5 – pick mid September to mid October – lots
Sanspareil (dessert) – I3 – pick mid October – lots
Ashmead’s Kernel (dessert) – B4 – pick early to mid October – 20
Barnack Orange (dessert) – B3 – pick early to mid October – 20
Ribston Pippin (dessert) – D5 – pick late September to mid October – 20
Wyken Pippin (dessert) – D3 – pick late Septmber to mid October – 20


Cider 3 – early December pressing – “Sydney Camm’s Marvel Machine”

Dabinett (cider) – H3 – pick early to late November – lots
Rosemary Russet (dessert) – I2 – pick early to mid October – lots
Newton Wonder (culinary) – C1 – pick mid October – lots


And here’s some fun – probably totally wide of the mark. According to “Craft Cider Making” by Andrew Lea, a cider guru, the ideal cider apple would have 15% sugar content, 0.4% Malic Acid and 0.2% Tannin. Now you can find various tables on the internet giving you these values for certain varieties but they really do depend on seasonal differences, local weather, year to year discrepencies and so on. However, for fun I’ve entered the values for the fruit I’m mixing (or an apple of a similar heritage where none is present) to see what each of the three ciders ends up with. The values are below:

 SugarMalic AcidTannin
Ideal Cider Value15.00%0.40%0.20%
Cider 111.1%0.41%0.13%
Cider 2???
Cider 313%0.44%0.15%

Unfortunately there’s no data for Forfar, an apple from the Netherlands, going back to the 1700s. That helps to scupper Cider 1 slightly, and the values for Ellison’s Orange from from its heritage variety Orange Cox’s Pippin, so they may also be wide of the mark. And Cider 2 is just not worth attempting to work out, with more than three apples’ juice data unavailable. Still, at least we know Cider 3 gets close to the mark!

Importantly, when we’ve finally pressed the juices for each cider, we’ll take an acid reading. We’re looking, ideally, for anything between 3.2 and 3.8 pH. Higher than 3.8 and we risk microbial infection of the cider. Lower than 3.2 and the acidity can be mouth puckering!

Roll on pressing – I’ll probably pick the first batch over the next weeek, with a view to pressing it the week after.

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