All posts tagged: cider production

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!

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To say that Cider has got a lot of attention over the last week would be an understatement.

We’ve had a lot of activity on the Real Cider web site, and it’s even been enough to bring the Wurzel’s back into the UK charts.

Producers and cider fan’s who followed Darling’s moves closely knew the tax increase was coming. However, the sledgehammer approach to crack a nut approach has seriously failed to support the vital contribution cider making makes to each local economy, and also the unspoken affects to the local wildlife.

To the future generations of families, many with ancient orchards – it must have been considered whether there are other businesses now that ‘bear more fruit’..

The only way to bring about permanent and environment-friendly projects is to make them financially viable. Alistair Darling has removed this chance at a stroke.

What he should be doing is encouraging the emerging new breed of artisan cidermakers who have recently breathed life into what was a disappearing craft.

Here are a collection of the best comments on the recent tax increase of cider:

“The artisan cidermakers are feeling sore. They think they are victims of their own success – that cider has become fashionable and profitable and the government has spotted a way to make money. And they think the rise is a way for Labour to signal that it is taking the problem of binge drinking seriously” – The Guardian

Britain’s new breed of cidermakers have revived a dying craft – but they say Alistair Darling’s tax rise could threaten their success Last year Keith Orchard produced around 10,500 litres (2,300 gallons) of cider and perry, which takes him above the 7,000-litre (1,540-gallon) mark after which duty must be paid. But the 10% rise in duty above inflation makes him wonder if he should cut his losses and take production back below 7,000 litres – The Guardian

Henry Chevallier, chairman of the National Association of Cider Makers, said: “Cider makers have invested millions to new orchards in the past decade. Orchards take years to yield a return and the loss to the rural economy and the environment will be enormous if sales decline – The Telegraph

Here is a wonderful video from the guys at Woods Cider Mill located pressing a batch of  this years apples in Weathersfield, Vermont.

They have a twin-screw cider press was purchased from the Empire State Press Co. in 1882. It was originally run by water power, but was moved from the mill pond in the early 1900’s and is now turned down by hand and electricity.

Making about 200 gallons of cider per pressing. Pretty impressive. In the video, you will see the cider boiling, this is to make ‘Boiled’ Cider. The technique of pressing the apples is exactly the same as for real or hard cider making.

The apple juice is boiled in a stainless steel evaporator, and concentrated to about 7 to 1. It is just concentrated real cider with nothing added. Boiled Cider is used with hot water for a delicious hot drink, in cooking, as a topping to pancakes or over yogurt or ice cream.

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!

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