Visit at Whin Hill Cider, Wells

Visit at Whin Hill Cider, Wells-next-the-Sea

Mark in his cider shop

Mark in his cider shop

Chris and Eve at Win Hill Cider

Chris and Eve at Win Hill Cider

Last Thursday four of us went to see Mark at his Cider Shop in Wells. He and his wife were very busy bottling new juice from red and rosey early Discovery apples pressed the day before. When we discussed the coming season we mentioned that we have already collected and received a lot of such early apples. Mark says they will not store for more than 10 days without going mealy and useless for making cider.

Mark said he always makes an early pressing of those apples and suggested the same to us. As it’s not worth it having this relatively small load of apples pressed at his orchard, we finally decided to buy a commercial juicer on Ebay which we had discussed for a while. It has cost £360 (new £1300). A while ago, TVS had already given green light to purchase the device.

Old cider press

Old cider press at Whin Hill

 

 

This juicer will give us the opportunity to do an early pressing while the main amount of apples probably will be pressed at Mark’s orchard near Wells in October. Mark also has 2x 45 gallons containers which he can let us have, enabling us to develop greater consistency in the cider, which in turn should address our concerns about fissile BiBs and exploding bottles.

Apparently, in addition to press the juice for quick consumption (or a tasty  juice for keeping if anyone has a pasteuriser), we can also store it in fermenting containers, let it start fermenting and add it later to the newly pressed juice for cider making.

Lisa bottling the fresh apple juice

Lisa bottling the fresh apple juice

Once we’ve got the device (hopefully next week!), we’ll have a juicing “event” at Tee Barn garage and will need hands to help with washing (apples, fermenting containers), feeding the juicer, tidying up etc. I’ll be in touch as soon as the juicer has arrived. If anyone wants to take juice only it will start fermenting in a couple of days if it not pasteurised. With pasteurising, it will last an age. Bring any clean, old screw-top bottles if you want. Mark has given us a few extra caps, so don’t worry if you have no cap still. Freezing this juice is also a possibility to conserve it in palatable form: for each individual to decide.

different dimensions than our modest production...

different dimensions than our modest production…

pressing early apples

Early apple picking days

Kind apple donors in Trunch and surrounding villages have invited us again to come and pick their apples.

Christine, Kate, Michelle,  Val and Katherine

the happy pickers Christine, Kate, Michelle, Val and Katherine

Chris enjoying the height

Chris enjoying the height

pressing early apples

Early apples pressing

A beautiful sunny September day in an idyllic little corner of Trunch was the setting for an early  pressing of apples – probably Discovery and Worcester varieties.

John doing some surgery

John doing some apple surgery

 

While humans,  Susanne, John, Val, Kate, Max, Dave and Chris got started, canines Flori, Mali and Lola busied themselves snuffling and investigating, before finally  lying down to catch a few rays of mid-September sunshine.

Kate offering last year's cider

Kate offering last year’s cider

Crates of early dessert varieties were the first to be processed.

Max inspecting & washing apples

Max inspecting & washing apples

the new juicer

the new juicer

Before pressing, the apples had to be washed and graded.  The fruit must be well-washed and  no mouldy fruit can be used. Those with minor blemishes went under John’s and Dave’s  knife for a little cosmetic surgery; those (happily few) which had begun to rot, were given the last rights and binned.

 

Dave & Chris juicing apples

Dave & Chris juicing apples

Pretty soon our  new commercial size juicer  was plugged in and operational.

First Chris and John, then Susanne and Val were pressing  gallons of sweet amber coloured  juice, plus a large amount of pulp, the appearance of which defied description. Though some of the coarser members of our little  group gave it a good try! An unexpected by product of the process was a large quantity of froth, mega sticky and taking up a lot of room. It was decided to try filtering the juice through muslin,  as it was produced and though this worked really well it was very hands on, and extremely labour intensive. Chris’s hands have never looked so pink and rosy!

Lola guarding the pulp

Lola guarding the pulp

It was amazing how all 7 of us, without a detailed plan of action, without much discussion and using new equipment, combined almost seamlessly as a team to get the job done. The various tasks weren’t so arduous and there was time for conversation and banter;  discussion varied from gossip, to the scientific ,  to the frankly indelicate.  Sandwiches were munched and some of last year’s  cider imbibed.

Chris & Susanne sorting the apples

Chris & Susanne sorting the apples

Kate, Max, Val, John & Dave - what a crew!

Kate, Max, Val, John & Dave – what a crew!

Eventually all the early eating apples were pressed, and a total of 10 gallons stored in fermenting containers.  A  quantity was  drawn off into bottles for the workers to take home. There’s nothing to beat fresh apple juice, unpasteurised, organic and stacked with Vitamin C !  And the rest will start fermenting for addition to later to cider making. Washing  up was sticky and a few bits of kit needed to be taken home for more thorough cleaning .

delicious fresh apple juice

delicious fresh apple juice

Roll on the delivery of later ripening varieties and the next pressing probably at Wells.