While out in the Orchard with the barrow and buckets it seemed wise to check the Cider Apples and the two eating apples Rich Red and Cox's Orange Pippen. Neither of the two eating apples had much good fruit. Just a season that wasn't productive for these two. In other years the Rich Red offers up some delicious produce.
The Cider Apples are Sweet Alford, Stokes Red, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black and Bulmers Norman. Non of these produced well this year, leaving us with just under two 9 litre buckets of mostly miserable small fruit. One or two pieces of fruit did come to full size and the Sweet Alford was magnificent. These are mostly due to ripen in April/May but all were ready now and wouldn't last on the tree much longer.
|Some of the pears were extremely large|
Rather than muck around with small quantities of Apples it was easier to chuck the whole lot into the Scratter and make a Perry/Cider blend.
|The scratter in action|
Our guide for Cider and Perry recommends a Potential Alcohol of no less than 9% for good keeping qualities. The sugar levels when measured after pressing came in at about Brix 15.5 which is just under 9%. Our climate just won't allow the fruit to ripen any more, mostly due to the wet conditions arriving at the final stage of ripening. To get the desired result a little sugar was added to the juice to lift the potential alcohol level.
The pH was not ideal at around 5 and a little Tartaric Acid solved that problem. And so the scratting went quickly and the pressing carried on all night with a yield of a little over 12 litres which is fine. The juice has had CL23 yeast added and when the fermentation really kicks in it will go into a chilling unit at 10 C. A long slow cool fermentation really brings out the fruit nose in the final product.
As usual a big clean up afterwards. That is the last use of the Basket press for the year. After it dries out it will get a light sanding and a coat of non toxic paint before being put to bed. It has worked hard this harvest with over 400 KG of grapes and close to 100 KG of Apples and Pears.
|The cake after pressing. Something for the chickens to enjoy|
We have been keeping back more fruit for eating fresh and enjoying the quality of the home grown product. Next year the objective is to keep more product on the tree after the main harvest to see if we can improve the length of time it can keep. This is hard in our temperate climate. If we were further south I'm sure it would keep for a few more months especially something like the Beurre Bosc.