All posts tagged: apples

Do you have an apple tree but can’t use all your apples?

Please consider sharing your surplus apples and pears with other members of the Real Cider community.

Due to recent demand of people wanting to learn how to make their own cider, we are going to help make this even easier for you.


Well. there are plenty of people and places around the country that have surplus apples, and windfalls from neighbours that are never used, and are left to go to waste.

This is for everyone to use, whether you live in England, Wales, America and beyond!

If you are either looking for apples, or have them to sell or give away then let everyone know in the comments below.

If you know of local groups that are already started sharing surplus apples and other fruit in your area, please leave their details in the comments below too!

We hope you think this is ethically, socially and environmentally friendly way of managing the free resource of fresh apples we have each year!

If you grow apples, be it a single tree or a whole orchard let us know how much you harvested and how affected you have been by the weather this year. Good or bad? Let us know in the comments below.

The following report is from Orchard Pig Groundforce in West Bradley, Somerset.

We are thrilled to report that we have actually finished the harvest.

Some people have not been so fortunate and our hearts go out to them.. we’ve seen lots of waterlogged orchards.

It was a predictably poor crop and a very difficult season. The dessert crop at West Bradley was about 65% of normal, whereas last year was 110%.

The modern plantings on wires have been the least affected by the weather and Falstaff has performed particularly well. Cider fruit has been on average a 45% crop for us as well as everybody else we know, but the trees look good, the fruit bud is forming, a good cold winter is forecast so let’s look forward to next year!

A brand new festival is being held at Brogdale this year; the Great British Cider, Beer and Food Festival will take place on 24 and 25 September and producers will showcase food and drink from around Kent and the UK.

Brogdale Collections is a charity with the principle aim of creating awareness and interest in The National Fruit Collections and to enhance the long term sustainable future for the living collections at Brogdale.

The National Fruit Collections are the largest fruit collection in the world growing on one site, and comprise around 2,200 apples, 550 pears, 320 cherries, 350 plums, 50 hazelnuts, 150 gooseberries, 200 currants (black, red, white and pink), as well as small collections of vines, quinces, medlars and apricots.

Sally Roger marketing manager at Brogdale, home of the National Fruit Collections comments:

“Our traditional cider festival is very popular in September and also has a number of food producers attending so we have decided this year to broaden the festival to give equal prominence to cider, beer and food and to give local producers the chance to showcase the great food and drink which is on offer here in Kent.”

“The cider bar will be much larger than in previous years and we are hoping to have over 100 different ciders to taste or take home. Cider apples will still be very prominent both in a display and also as part of the orchard tours.”

“Many people don’t just come to taste cider at this time of year but we are increasingly getting a number of enquiries from people who want to make their own cider so choosing the right variety of tree is important and what better way than to see the many varieties of cider apple grown at Brogdale and to select one that best suits your tastes.”

There will be plenty to entertain at the festival for all ages so if you want a break from sampling all the food and drink on offer then there will be guided and self guided orchard tours, tractor trailer rides, miniature railway rides, cookery demonstrations and gardening talks, fruit variety identification and much more.

There will also be music to entertain throughout the afternoon and evening including on Saturday local bands The Fecks, Engine and Clutch & Gearbox and on Sunday Adrian Ben and the Chillbillies. There is also the marketplace shops, Grow plant centre, Courtyard Cafe and new Lottery funded children’s play area.

Anyone interested in having a stall at the festival should contact Brogdale at [email protected] or call 01795 536250.  Stalls will cost £55 for a marquee space 10% discount if you bring your own gazebo.

Further information on visiting Brogdale can be found at

These are photos from this year’s cider making.

Cidermaking at home, 2010

We are fortunate to have a garden which allows us to wash, prepare and mash the apples. Our vigo press is the tool that lets us press the mashed apples and the pressed juice flows directly into our sterilised demijon containers.

We made 7 gallons from this collection of Gala, Bramley, Golden Delicious, Cox’s and Russet’s – all from the local Sussex countryside. We have two apple trees in our back garden – a Golden Delicious and Fiesta.

The Bramley is a cooking apple, with Russet, Gala and Golden all being rich, crisp dessert apples.

We are going to be racking off the cider in the next couple of weeks into spare demijons to allow a secondary fermentation to increase the final strength (ABV) of the cider.

A food blogger in Suffolk took a fantastic selection of photographs over the weekend, it captures the essence of what makes cider making and the traditional process of pressing apples so special.

A perfectly timed break in the wet weather cleared the way for a wonderful Saturday gathering apples from a favourite orchard in Suffolk.

Adding apples to the scratter. A mechanical set of teeth that creates a pulp of the apples. © Eat Pictures Food Photography 2010

The apple pulp is then added to the apple press to make juice. © Eat Pictures Food Photography 2010

The photos show the typical process in traditional juicing of apples, to make cider, or in this case just apple juice which is just as magical as it gets:

Can’t even begin to tell you how sweet, perfumed, fresh and alive this stuff tastes.

View the full set of photos at eatpictures

Ask a fruit or cider producer how they deal with attack from pests and diseases on their fruit, and you would like to hear something along the lines of Somerset Cider Brandy’s response:

Our policy of growing apples is to use the minimum of sprays possible, often not spraying at all. We use no artificial nitrogen, which means we produce smaller and tastier apples than those grown in orchards for industrial cider. In fermenting and making cider we use traditional methods, fermenting juice in the autumn without first turning it into concentrate.

“Our policy of growing apples is to use the minimum of sprays possible, often not spraying at all. We use no artificial nitrogen, which means we produce smaller and tastier apples than those grown in orchards for industrial cider. In fermenting and making cider we use traditional methods, fermenting juice in the autumn without first turning it into concentrate”.

This is also the case over in stateside orchards like Farnum Hill in New Hampshire. Where the colder winters deal with any pests.

Somerset Cider Brandy is part of the Slow Food Movement, in our view this is more relevant to our artisan production than the current organic system, which did a grand job in the 80’s but has not evolved to meet new challenges. Currently, ‘organic’ often means huge businesses supplying the supermarkets or goods imported by airplane from the other side of the planet at a vast carbon cost.

The Slow Food Movement has grown from its Italian roots and promotes good local products and proven safe methods of artisan production. Today, Slow Food  has over 100,000 members in 132 countries.

Three counties perry and Somerset Cider Brandy were declared part of the Ark of Taste project. Which was launched in Turin in 1996 to catalogue, describe and draw public attention to food products from around the world that have real productive and commercial potential and are closely linked to specific communities and cultures – but are, alas, at risk of extinction.

So from what you can see a caring and ecologically minded cider producer is both thinking organically and embracing the slow food thinking.

Yet today, the Soil Association are the face of organic producers in the UK, visible in practically every supermarket across the country. Supporting organic principles is as easy as buying products with the Soil Association organic logo.

Why is slow food not more recognised in the UK? There is no Slow Food logo to put on foods or in shops, they are not a certifying body and have no plans to become one. A big area of discussion is how Slow Food, home to the artisanal producer, can ever work with supermarkets.

Learn more at Slow Food UK and find a local group near you to get involved!