One of the good things about harvesting fruit from a truly mixed orchard, is that for every tree having an 'off' year and bearing little or no fruit, there's likely to be something else fully turned 'on' as it were. It's not good for consistency, but it means there's always something to press.
There are two Green Horse perry pear trees in Johns 'Far Orchard', one of which has cropped very heavily for us for the last couple of years. The other tree is tucked away in the corner, close to a row of conifers which compete for water and nutrients, consequently it's never had much of a crop on it. This year, Green Horse is having an 'off' year, which means instead of the usual half a ton or more of fruit, we've got barely four sacks of pears to play with. To fill our press we need something like seven sacks of fruit, so there will be no single variety Green Horse Perry for the 2012 season. A great shame as its one of my favourite perrys, even more so because its specific gravity came out at a whopping 1.064, up from 1.050 last year. I guess this is down to a combination of factors, including the dry Summer, optimum ripeness (these pears really needed pressing today), and the paucity of the crop.
To fill the press, and go most of the way towards filling a large fermenter, we pressed the sharp Green Horse pears with a few sacks of another more tannin rich perry pear (another whopping gravity of 1.068). This will be topped up tomorrow with a vigorously fermenting 25 litres of Blakeney Red from last weekends pressing session, making a three pear blend which will hopefully taste great, and won't be as lumpy as our last blending experiment.
The weekend harvest included our first few sacks of apples from one of two Blenheim Orange trees we'll be using to produce a nice sharp blending cider. This will be used for much needed acidity, and as a fermenting starter for the Yarlington Mill and Vilberie apples later in the season. There's perhaps one more perry pear pressing session ahead (Red Longdon is having an 'on' year), then it's full steam ahead with the cidermaking.