Saturday, 16 October 2010

Ciderhouse News - Mid October

The weekend cidermaking started earlier than usual this week. On Thursday I collected the Kingston Black cider apples and Green Horse perry pears from Worcestershire, delivering them back to Rockingham Forest Cider HQ ready for pressing. The Kingston Blacks will be left to fully mature for a few weeks more before pressing, but the perry pears had already stood for a week following harvest, and were on the cusp of being overripe. We also pressed the apples and pears from Rockingham which will form this seasons Welland Valley Festival Special.

It was a long, hard day in the ciderhouse, but we were rewarded for our efforts with around 300 litres of cider and perry. The Green Horse pears have pressed with a similar sugar level to last years crop, giving a Specific Gravity of 1.050 (as measured with my shiny new German Hydrometer). This will produce a perry of around 6.4% abv, although only around 100 litres will actually be sold as a single variety perry. The rest will be used for blending with other perrys for our Rockingham Forest Perry.

The local Rockingham fruit had been left to mature slightly longer than absolutely necessary, resulting in a fair few apples and pears not making the grade due to rot. Not an ideal situation, but nevertheless I had high hopes for this fruit. There were four different varieties, all dessert fruit. An early, soft-fleshed apple with a lovely fragrance, though no great keeping quality; a crisp, sharpish eater, only just ripe at harvest; a probable Conference pear; and a greenish/golden russeted apple, almost certainly Egremont Russet. The russets made up the bulk of the fruit, and I'm expecting a soft tannin from them to add a welcome complexity to the blend. All that waiting around will have helped the sugar levels, and I was pleased to record a Specific Gravity of 1.058, giving a potential abv of 7.4%.

Once again we are relying on wild yeasts to get fermentation under way, and I'm pleased to say that after a worryingly slow start, it's all systems go with the Malvern Hills and Blakeney Red perrys. Phew! Fermentation is very slow in these perrys, possibly due to the extremely low nutrient levels in this very old, largely unmanaged orchard. Slow fermentation is considered a good thing for flavour, just so long as it remains slowly ticking over, and not stopped entirely. No sooner has one fermenter got fermenting, than the wait begins for another to get going. Green Horse is at the starting gate and ready for the off...

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