Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Reaching the Pears Others Can't Reach...

The new cidermaking season has started in much the same way as it did last season. 10 sacks of Malvern Hills Perry Pears, harvested at just the right level of ripeness, whisked home and pressed within 48 hours of being picked. This variety of perry pear has a tendency to rot within days of becoming properly ripe, and the fruit will often rot on the tree before falling. Speed is therefore of the essence lest we lose the whole lot to the compost heap.

The Malvern Hills crop was a little less impressive this year, requiring just a little more effort to harvest enough pears for a large fermenter of pressed juice. This meant bringing our all-new Mega-Panker* into use so as to reach those tricksy just-out-of-reach pears right at the top of the tree. These perry pear trees are huge specimens, believed to have been planted by the monks of Pershore Abbey around 250 years ago. It's particularly pleasing to be using fruit from trees which have such a long, largely unbroken history of usage. I'm sure the monks would be envious if only they knew.

Sugar levels are good, giving an Original Gravity of 1.060, which is around 7.5% potential alcohol. Not quite as good as last years monster sugar levels, but more than respectable all the same. This lower sugar level is not really surprising, the back-end of the Summer has hardly been one to write home about, and it remains to be seen whether this years more modest vintage is reflected across the rest of the harvest of cider apples and perry pears.

The juice has now been lightly sulphited, and we hope that a natural yeast fermentation will take hold within a week or two. That's two large fermenters of Malvern Hills Perry we'll have in the ciderhouse. One ready to start fermenting, whilst last years perry is now finally ready to barrel up for sale.

* The Mega-Panker is simply a fibreglass, sectional 'flag pole', of the sort seen frequently at festivals and outdoor shows. I had to remove a few feet of very thin pole at the tip before firmly taping a 'U' bend of copper piping to the top for hooking around branches. It's a little bit ungainly in use, but once it's up there I can happily shake fruit from trees of really quite enormous height. Of course shaking hard apples and pears from such a height brings its own risks, and as you can see in this short video, a hard hat is mandatory when in use.

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