Sunday 2 March 2014

Cyder House Rules

Cyder making Course
March 2014

I have been tinkering with cider making over the last few years, trying to develop my skills by trial and error. All very entertaining but its slow progress and I have come to realise that I need a bit of help. Helen came to the rescue with an interesting Christmas present - a one day cider making course at the School of Artisan Food near Worksop.

The course was led by Simon Reed who makes the "Old Wife" Cider Brand in Kent, a cider equivalent of a micro brewery.

First up a pile of history and interesting facts:

  • There are nearly 4,000 types of apple 
  • They are all descended from about 24 varieties in Kazakhstan.
  • There are about 400 types of pear in the UK
  • There are 1100 small cider makers at work
  • Per capita the UK is the cider drinking capital of the world 
  • Just about any apple can be used to make cider
  • The legal minimum apple quantity or mass produced cider is 35% (I hate to think what else goes into it)
Whilst not being one for semantics, I have been a bit trouble with the Cyder thing - it sounds a bit olde worlde pretentiousness. But I am wrong. Back in the day when there were more acres devoted to the apple than grain the first pressing was sold to the rich and was the Cyder. It was a watered down second pressing which was sold to the peasants, and this was the Cider. So, for the purposes of artisan cider, its actually Cyder that we are making.

Plasterers stirrer and the Shredder

As well as a whole ruck of great tips and advice we got to play with the big boys toys which included a range of methods of breaking up the apples - scratters, shredders, plasterers stirrers as well as a range of presses. Its a great way to try out the options and see what you get for your money.


Having played with the big boys toys I now want some for myself, but they are terribly expensive. 

Breaking up the apples to a small pressable bits is a vital 1st stage and a scratter is really the way to go, But for the few gallons I want to make a plasterer's stirrer in a drill does a surprisingly effective job and at £5 its a really good option.

15L press

As for a press, its just begging for a DIY project. It need to be very strong but can have pressure applied by a bottle jack and is well within the scope of my carpentry skills. Its a tempting option but of course, I just need to find the time to build it before the Autumn.

Rough Old Wife and some DIY cider at the start of its 6 month route to drinkability

So I am now all ready to make cider (or cyder) but with no apples for six months I am limited to the small quantity of Braeburn / Bramley juice and a the one litre of pear juice which we pressed during the course.

In the meantime I have some more beer to make up. Hurrah for the mighty hop!


Anonymous said...

The drill cutter is brilliant!

I'm sure you'll soon make a great press, but as we have the equipment from this year's foray into cyder making and you have the skill maybe a joint venture is in order??? :-)

We'll be round and about in ID this year...

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Andy Tidy said...

That sounds like a plan Sue. Its been too long since we last met up - roll on the 2014 season!

Sue said...

I hear that congrats are in order for marmalade!

The towpath squarks!


Andy Tidy said...

Indeed Sue - I gather you have been at Spinneybank.... Whilst I was on my Cider course Helen we receiving her awards in Penrith. She won Gold for her Lemon and Lavender and Bronze for her Lime with Medlar Vodka.Clever girl. The Marmalade is good too.