Monday, 4 February 2008

New Press

Rockingham Forest Cider is at last moving into the 20th Century! This weekend we braved the snow and ice, and took a van down to Worcestershire to collect our new (second-hand) Voran hydraulic press. Bigger, better, and considerably heavier than the screw press we sold-on last weekend, which meant calling on the assistance of a pair of family strong-men to ease its journey home.

We’ve been on the lookout for a bigger press for some time, and I’ve had my eye on a couple of antique twin-screw presses which I spotted were for sale in deepest Somerset. Our Summer project was to negotiate a reasonable price on one of these old and therefore expensive curios, construct a modest lean-to shelter for it in the garden, and upscale from the hard graft of pressing 5 gallons of cider a time, to the hard graft of pressing 30 gallons or more with each pressing. I was quite looking forward to having one of these original old cider presses about the place, the hope being that the lesser the number of times we have to build and dismantle a new ‘cheese’ of apple pulp, the more we’ll get pressed in a day. The other option for up scaling is to go hydraulic, an even more expensive option if you’re forced to buy new, and not really a serious option for us.

In the relatively small world of cidermaking, it’s worth keeping at least one ear permanently to the ground, figuratively speaking. Cidermakers from the traditional heartlands of the West Country etc. will occasionally call it a day, and rarely is there any interest from family members in continuing the tradition since there’s so little money in it for the effort involved. That’s where enthusiastic amateurs (idiots?) like us come into play, and it came to my attention that just such a West Midlands cidermaking enterprise had pressed it’s last a couple of years ago. The owner was happy to sell-on the press for a reasonable price to someone who would hopefully put it to good use, and so a deal was struck and the delicate business of transporting a third of a ton of steel-on-wheels up the M6 was undertaken on a bright and freezing Saturday morning.

Hamming it up during the offload at Middleton are the ‘Auld Fella’ Ron, and the ‘Auld Bruvver’ Nigel who both put in a sterling effort of brains and brawn, which is sadly more than can be said for the second-half performance of the England rugby union team. Ho-hum!

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