All posts tagged: cider making

We were asked the following question over at the cider forum I want to highlight to this as others will be able to learn from this too:

I have a small paddock in which I would like to grow some apple trees with a view of possibly making a small amount of cider. I know nothing about what trees to purchase or if it is even a practical idea. Can you advise on where is the best place for me to get help, buy trees or in fact learn all about it?

Firstly, anyone can make cider!

We want to encourage the production of cider on a small scale at home or in your local community. Don’t forget that apple juice and cider vinegar can also be made from the same apples.

Whether you have a back garden with a couple of apple trees, several acres of orchard, or you’re just ’scrumping’ apples from friends and neighbours every autumn you will find it’s a fantastic way to get out learn about your local area, use local produce that might otherswise go to waste and most important of all, get friends, family and neighbours involved!

There are a number of links on the real cider site that will help you with orchard and cider production

Two fantastic books to help you on your cider journey

This information will be enough to get you started. Remember that if you get the essentials right: selection of suitable apple tree(s), production method and equipment you will be enjoying real cider year after year!

As a small scale hobby cider maker I have a few books on the subject (more on Cider books), and I was eager to see what this book offered.

There’s a good description on apples and their cultivation, including locating, planting and management – useful if you are thinking of setting up an orchard yourself. Then the chapters after focus on the detail of pressing the fruit, looking after the juice, yeast and its role in fermentation, through to maturation and bottling.

This book is for anyone who wants to grow and to make good cider, apple juice or even cider vinegar. Whether you have a back garden with a couple of apple trees, several acres of orchard deep in the countryside, or you’re just ‘scrumping’ apples from friends and neighbours every autumn, this book is for you. Here you can learn about the equipment you need, the techniques to use and just how they work as they do. You’ll also learn what to do when things go wrong, and how to put them right! Packed with a wealth of practical experience and understanding, Craft Cidermaking is for beginners and old hands alike.

Craft Cider Making book cover

Craft Cider Making book cover

Summary of chapters

    • Chapter 1 The History of Cider
    • Chapter 2 What do I need to make cider?
    • Chapter 4 Juicing and Fermenting
    • Chapter 5 Customising your Cider
    • Chapter 6 When things go wrong
  • Chapter 7 Apple Juice, Cider Vinegar and Perry

Biography of the Author

Andrew Lea is a retired food biochemist who started his career in the tea industry and then spent 13 years at the Long Ashton Research Station (the National Fruit and Cider Institute) in the 1970’s.

He has been a hobby cidermaker with his own small orchard and cider press for over 20 years and has won many prizes at the Bath and West and the Hereford International Cider Competitions.

Buy online

You can buy the book from the publisher, Good Life Press. You can also get it from Vigo. £12.99 / ISBN 978 1 90487 1378

Autumn is here and apples are ready for harvest, so if you fancy making some of your own cider then get reading this book!

Cider making goes back centuries, to 1204 AD to be precise (more in Cider History).

From Roman, to Victorian times when many orchards were planted in and around farm estates. Many cider makers look for ways to supplement the income from their tennanted farming. This was the case for Henry Weston in the village of Much Marcle, Herefordshire in 1878. Henry started using his own farm orchards fruit to make cider and perry, quickly gaining customers and building a reputation for quality, which ensure modest yet steady growth.

The efforts and teachings are invaluable to all they passed their skills and knowledge on to. Ensuring that cider quality and the essence of the core principles and heritage remain. For example, the skill of creating ciders using blends of bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples (more in cider apple varieties), rather than a single variety. Believing that it’s the blend of apples that gives a cider its distinctive taste when compared to others made in different parts of the UK.

Nothing much has changed in the way in which real cider is made today: you take the apples, press them, extract the juice, ferment it, then let it settle to allow it to run clear (more in how is cider made?).

So much of the flavour depends on the distinctive taste of cider products through blending apple varieties, much in the same way chefs will blend their ingredients.

It’s also a craft which can’t be rushed, and the careful fermentation and conditioning is what makes ciders so unique in the current drinks market. The apple juices once pressed are blended and allowed to develop a deep flavour where they can ferment together in oak casks which not only impart flavour, but also their full character:

  • the balance of sugars – dryness, sweetness
  • tannin levels – the colour, golden, light, dark
  • acidities levels

This approach helps to explain the popularity of cider from old to recent times. The Real Cider web site is proud to be  supporting real cider and championing the founders of cider making who have successfully passed on their skills to their grandchildren, like Westons.

Here is a list of the basic equipment for Cider Making, you can get these items from any good home-brew shop or even ebay for a job lot.

  • Sterilising and cleaning: Sodium metabisulphite and nylon long handled bottle brush
  • Washing: Plastic tub or dustbin – to wash apples
  • Scratting: Sturdy plastic bucket and timber for crushing apples
  • Pressing: Cider press with medium mesh nylon bag
  • Fermentation: 1 gallon demijohns or 5 gallon plastic vessels
  • Fermentation: Fermentation locks, ‘bubbler’ type
  • Fermentation: Hydrometer
  • Racking off: 2 metre clear plastic tubing

Recommended Reading about Cider making and enjoying everything related to apples.

Golden Fire: The Story of Cider Until now no one has attempted to unravel the many myths, legends, and misconceptions that surround its origins and development to present a factual narrative history.

Is cider, as legend has it, the oldest alcoholic drink of them all, or is it in fact a comparatively recent introduction? Did it come to Britain with the Celts, the Romans, or the Normans? Were medieval babies really baptised in it?

Golden Fire: The Story of Cider takes a long, cool, refreshing look at the evolution of one of Britain’s favourite beverages and answers all those questions.


A Somerset Pomona: The Cider Apples of Somerset A book on Somerset apples with colour photos of all 80 varieties still grown in Somerset today.

There are drawings of every apple, showing size and shape, together with descriptive notes on their origns for cider making.

80 pages paperback.


Real Cider Making on a Small Scale A comprehensive and practical cider making book for the small scale producer.

The authors combine years of experience and expertise to produce clear and accessible text.

136 pages paperback.


Cider: Making, Using & Enjoying Sweet & Hard Cider An American book of interest to all cider and apple juice makers.

Includes chapters on making cider, apple varieties, vinegar and brandy.

200 page paperback.


Cider: The Forgotten Miracle A witty and energetic investigation into the history of farmhouse cider.

The story set against the backdrop of 17th and 18th Century England is told by poet James Crowden with humour and clarity.

119 pages paperback.


Growing Fruit (Royal Horticultural Society’s Encyclopaedia of Practical Gardening) An excellent comprehensive guide to all the key techniques for the successful growing of soft, tree and warm temperature fruits from apples and strawberries to nuts and currants.

Includes over 320 easy to follow step-by-step drawings to guide you through a wide range of essential gardening projects.


CAMRA’s Good Cider Guide Have some fun hunting out some of these cider outlets!

For a simple guide it’s really well presented, the layout is very clean and easy to use.

There are a couple of features on the heritage and production of cider, in this book that break up the guide book element and make it a genuinely good read.


Cider This book showcases the best of the British craft cider revolution.

With features on some of the characters involved in cider – and perry-making and articles on the history of cider and perry, noteworthy cider pubs, making your own cider, cooking with cider, cider’s place in British folklore and foreign ciders.

Recommended.


Common Ground Book of Orchards: Community, Conservation and Culture An inspiring and informative large book format exploring how orchards continue to shape local culture from custom to kitchen.

Includes 50 specially commissioned photographs.

222 page paperback.


Craft Cider Making book coverCraft Cider Making – This book is for anyone who wants to grow and to make good cider, apple juice or even cider vinegar.

Whether you have a back garden with a couple of apple trees, several acres of orchard deep in the countryside, or you’re just ‘scrumping’ apples from friends and neighbours every autumn, this book is for you.