Sunday, 14 November 2010

End Game

As the 2010 cidermaking season draws (slightly painfully) to a conclusion, with just one more day of pressing to go, I thought I'd post a few of Karen's pics of the weekend action. If I look half asleep in these photos, it's because I was, though sufficiently alert to operate dangerous machinery safely.... obviously!!!

We've been pressing our main Rockingham Forest Cider blend this weekend, consisting of mostly Yarlington Mill, some Dabinett and unknown Sweet cider apples, plus various Sharps to help balance the pH. We should end up with around 170 gallons of this blend, which we may blend in turn with the 100 gallons or so of Kingston Black which we pressed earlier in the month.

The specific gravity of the Yarlington Mill juice was 1.056, which is a little below last years figures. This reflects the sugar levels we've been getting across all of our apple and pear juices this year, which are generally very good, though not quite at the 'Vintage' levels of 2009. The blend itself is averaging out at 1.054, which should give an alcohol level of around 6.9% if fermented to dry.

Traditionally, the spent pomace (apple pulp) which remains from pressing would have either been spread on the land as a low-grade fertilizer, or fed to local livestock. We've a fair size garden, but it's certainly not big enough to deal with a ton or so of dryish apple pulp. As for livestock, the Rockingham Forest Cider Hens will have a peck at most things, but there's a limit to how much a flock of four can consume before the poor little cluckers develop the Chicken equivalent of IBS! I'd like to think they'd give it their best shot though, and it's probably worth a small experiment if only to see how good the eggs would taste!

Luckily for us, our friends Adam & Serena of Keythorpe Valley Farm have a real passion for Pomace. Actually it's their rare breed pigs that have the passion, in fact they go wild for the stuff. By close of play next weekend, these pampered porkers will have snouted out over a ton of pomace, and if you want to know what apple-fed pork tastes like, you know where to go. The latest load of pomace was picked up by Adam & Serena last night, and we were delighted to receive a Brace of Leicestershire's finest feathered game in return. I plan to hang these handsome beasts for a few days yet, which will give me ample time to 'pluck' up the courage for the messy business of dressing the birds. I think they'd benefit from some time spent in a pot, possibly with something sweet and alcoholic. Any excuse to open a bottle of cider.

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