Early days I know, but it's already becoming clear that the 2010 cidermaking season will be remembered by many cidermakers for its Apple Lollipops, Pomace Slushies and Torpid Fermentations.
Here at Rockingham Forest Cider, we managed to avoid the misery and potential frostbite of Pressing during the big freeze, but the recent cold spell has played havoc with the performance of our delicate Wild Yeasts. All the later pressings of Yarlington Mill, Dabinett etc. have been extremely reluctant to show signs of life in the chilly ciderhouse. On one memorable early morning, we recorded a garden temperature of -11C, and though it's unlikely to have been this cold in the ciderhouse, I'm guessing the temperature will have hovered either side of freezing for the last few weeks. It would take a pretty hardy microbe to rouse itself for fermentation in these conditions, and so it's hardly surprising that none of them did. Bad Yeasts!
This ongoing lack of fermentation is a worrying thing for a cidermaker, so it came as a bit of a relief when last weekend's lull in the freezing conditions helped kick-start the last few malingerers into life. I'm now pleased to announce that it's a lot noisier in the ciderhouse, with all 25 fermenters finally fizzing and glopping away like ....err... big fizzy gloppy things.
The imminent return of freezing conditions shouldn't be anything to worry about. Once a fermentation gets going, the process by which the yeasts convert sugar to alcohol (and CO2), also generates a little bit of heat, hopefully just enough to keep things ticking over. Even this little demijohn of Green Horse Perry (right) continued to ferment throughout the Nov/Dec freeze. Notice the strange 'alien' gloop floating on the top of this perry, a common occurrence with high tannin perrys, something to do with 'Polymeric Perry Tannins'... or something!
With everything now as it should be in the ciderhouse, it's high time we turned our attention to the serious business of Unbridled Christmas Pleasure. More of which later...