Saturday, 26 September 2009
A listing of Apple Day events can be found on the Common Ground Website, though even this extensive listing is not likely to be complete. This year we'll not only be visiting one of the events, but also taking part by offering samples and sales of our cider at Brocks Hill Country Park in Oadby, Leicestershire (11th October, 11-4pm). This will be our last event of the season, given that we have now virtually sold out of cider.
We've written about Brocks Hill before on this blog, in particular the wonderful Community Orchard which forms a centre point to the extensive parklands. Presumably, many of the trees will still be in fruit, which is something I look forward to exploring on the day.
We hope to have a small display of cider and perry fruit, and some nice images to help explain the cidermaking process right through from orchard to glass. We'll also have a small selection of our friend Diana Fegredo's lovely fruit themed cards for sale, an example of which is shown here. Look out too for Nigel Deacon and Mel Wilson of the Leicestershire Heritage Apple Project, who will be there to explain about rare local apples and why we need to conserve them.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Following pressing, we added a small dose of Sulphite to prevent spoilage organisms turning the precious juice into perry vinegar or worse. For the first time this season, we plan to ferment all our ciders and perrys without the addition of a single strain cultured yeast. Instead we're relying on the natural yeasts present in the fruit, and those which have built up through successive seasons on our cidermaking equipment. Although this can be slightly more risky, there are definite advantages to natural yeast fermentations.
The early part of a natural fermentation is with a range of low alcohol-tolerant yeasts which can give an added complexity to the finished cider/perry. When these yeasts have done their job, the fermentation is taken over by the more robust Saccharomyces strains of yeast which tend to build up in the ciderhouse and cidermaking equipment over successive years of milling and pressing.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Monday, 14 September 2009
Sunday, 13 September 2009
In common with much of this years fruit harvest, Sloes appear to have ripened quite early, but unlike most fruits it can be quite difficult to tell whether a Sloe berry is properly ripe from its taste. The old rule of thumb is to wait until the first frost before picking your Sloes, but the recent trend for warmer weather in Autumn can make for very late frosts, and therefore this rule can't be relied on if you want to get your Sloes harvested before the Blackbirds do!
Despite this being a very poor year for Sloes in the village, we managed to pick a couple of pound of berries, the purply-blue bloom, and soft texture being our clue to ripeness. Kevin at the Red Lion bravely chewed on a berry and pronounced them ripe and ready for the Gin. He's been picking Sloes a good deal longer than us, so his judgment was good enough for me.
Should you be lucky enough to have some Sloes this year, here's the recipe we use for our Sloe Gin. Adjust the sugar up or down to taste (up quite a bit in Karens case), and feel free to add a little Vanilla Essence should the mood take you:
- Take 1lb of Sloes, prick them all over with a pin, and remove any
stalks if necessary
- Place in a sealable glass jar with 4oz sugar
- Add a 70cl bottle of Gin
- Seal and give a shake every day until all the sugar has dissolved
- Leave until Christmas, shaking occasionally, then strain into attractive
bottles and label
Sunday, 6 September 2009
Well this is just a thank you to festival organiser Bill Smith, and his team of CAMRA volunteers, for helping us source a sack full of 2 pint containers for our stall at the Brocks Hill Apple Day event in October. Great people all round, and thoroughly deserving of our support.
Saturday, 5 September 2009
It's a bit like Cider but made from Pears not Apples.
It's not a Cider, because Cider is made from Apples.
We don't make Pear Cider, although the Kettering Evening Telegraph seem to think we do (see right).
So, in conclusion:
- Cider is made from Apples (We make some of this)
- Perry is made from Pears (We also make some of this)
- Pear Cider is a bit like renaming Beer a 'Malt & Hop Wine' for the benefit of wine drinkers who might not understand what it is. Ridiculous! (We don't make any of this)
Friday, 4 September 2009
Now Rabbit is something Karen objects to eating on many levels. The main one being it's a Rabbit! Fluffy, twitchy-nosed, droopy eared, 'Bright Eyes', you know what I'm saying. She also claims to not like the taste of Rabbit....Hmm!
Now don't get me wrong. It's not a question of disbelief on this issue. If Karen says she doesn't like the taste of Rabbit, then clearly she doesn't like the taste of Rabbit, and it would be very wrong of me to think otherwise.
Yes, just plain wrong... and even wronger to try and pass off said Rabbit meat as, say, Chicken in the hope of maybe tripping the girl up so to speak..... Yes, that would be very, very wrong..... although....!
Anyway, Karen's away for the weekend, relieving me of any moral dilemma surrounding the cooking of a tasty wild Rabbit purloined from the wonderful Ashley Herb Farm. The recipe I used was adapted from one by Simon Imrie of the highly regarded Pembury Tavern in Hackney, and which features in the recently published CAMRA book 'Cider'. Rabbit Braised with Cider is Simons bit, the additional Garlic, Cream and Mustard are mine.
I put a Jointed Rabbit into a small casserole with half a pint of our Med/Dry Cider, half a pint of Chicken Stock, sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme, two Bay Leaves, a couple of crushed Garlic Cloves. and a good grind of Black Pepper. I then popped the lid on, bunged it in the oven at 180C/350F/GM4, and went to the Red Lion for a couple of hours to try the new beer from Great Oakley Brewery. On my return I found the kitchen had filled with a meaty, herby, aromatic loveliness, to which I added a dollop of Double Cream, and a teaspoon of Wholegrain Mustard. I served half the Rabbit with homegrown Potato Mash and French Beans, and a bottle of Sheppy's Dabinett Cider. The other half will go in the freezer for another day, and perhaps another person...
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Other than when affected by scab, of which Tremlett's are very susceptible, these bright red, conical fruits are very attractive, and highly distinctive in an orchard setting. This is one of the few cider apple varieties I can usually identify with any kind of confidence. Tremlett's are strongly biennial (crop heavily only on alternate years), and quite vigorous. Our trees are growing away very well, putting on a tremendous amount of growth. The juice is a 'hard' full bittersweet, best used in a blend with less astringent fruit.