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default The time of year for smashing apples !

Post by Chilli-head 4th October 2016, 6:05 pm

Fed up with DIY at the weekend, I was easily tempted by a call from a friend to go round and join in a Sunday afternoon cider making.

Equipment involved a pressure washer, a load of plastic garden trugs, a "crusher" made from a few bits of 2x4" wood, and a Vigo press. Crushing apples by smashing them in a bucket with a wooden post is surprisingy theraputic, and actually not that inefficient. I had planned to try and make a scratter, but it seems hardly worth it.  About 10 gallons of juice pressed in total.  I'm not a huge cider fan, so most of my apples are destined for apple crumble (which we are all fans of !), but I'm trying a gallon to see if I can improve on last year's - which was fit for the drain only Embarassed

Anyone else having a go ?
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Post by Ploshkin 5th October 2016, 7:59 pm

Sadly, I have no apples. I've never managed to get any to grow. I've not had any given to me this year either, not even for the pig.
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Post by Chilli-head 5th October 2016, 8:19 pm

As we were pressing apples we were saying that it was a shame we didn't have a pig to feed the remains to. My friend has chickens and would have a pig if he had space, I think. So the remains had to go on the compost heap.
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Post by freebird 6th October 2016, 1:03 pm

Ploshkin wrote:Sadly, I have no apples.  I've never managed to get any to grow.

Have you ever tried, or even considered, the varieties on very dwarfing rootstock, and grow in containers?
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Post by Ploshkin 6th October 2016, 5:22 pm

I haven't, Freebird, because of living down in a hollow with limited sun. I've always believed that too be the main reason why they just don't do (likewise my tasteless tomatoes in the greenhouse).
However, after the success of my polytunnel in its higher spot I'm going to have a go at trying a couple by the tunnel - there's room within the fenced off plot. I thought I would dig a big hole as its in clay and fill with something suitable for planting. At one of the summer shows I met a man who has a fruit nursery and who knows the right varieties and rootstocks for our area so I am going to pay him a visit.
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Post by freebird 7th October 2016, 8:35 am

I wonder if it might get too hot in there for apples. The polytunnel, after all, only increases heat, not daylight hours or sunshine. I think I would be inclined to try some in large containers next to the polytunnel - maybe the more sheltered side.
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Post by Ploshkin 7th October 2016, 10:28 am

I wasn't going to put the apples in the tunnel. There's a fair bit of space fenced off around the tunnel where I think I will try a couple. It's all dense clay hence the plan to dig a big hole for planting.
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Post by Chilli-head 7th October 2016, 10:36 am

If your hollow is a fairly wet spot (and I'm guessing that in Wales it probably is !), Quinces might be happier there ?
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Post by freebird 7th October 2016, 12:22 pm

Ah okay, misunderstood. Regarding a large hole in dense clay, you wIll need to make sure it doesn't just end up as a sump. If the rainwater can't escape readily through the clay, it will puddle in the much looser material around your tree.
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Post by Chilli-head 8th October 2016, 8:58 pm

Coming back to cider making, mine is bubbling so enthusiastically that it has escaped through the airlock and out over the kitchen worktop Embarassed Should have left more headroom perhaps.
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Post by Chilli-head 17th October 2016, 9:59 am

Bubbling has nearly stopped now. I've put it in the cool cupboard under the stairs* to settle a bit before bottling. I'm going to add a bit of sugar to bottle ferment it to make it sparking, so don't want to kill the yeast, just let the thick of the murkiness settle.

* There seems to be some strange effect whereby cupboards under stairs are always cold. My granny's was, my parents had a larder there that kept food cool, and ours is perfect for storing wine and homebrew. Wish I understood why.
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Post by Ploshkin 17th October 2016, 1:11 pm

Your previous post reminds me of when I put a demijohn of elderberry wine on a heating mat as it was reluctant to start fermenting. I was greeted in the morning by stalactites of pink froth hanging from the ceiling.
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Post by FloBear 18th October 2016, 4:51 pm

What a picture!
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Post by Chilli-head 2nd November 2016, 8:23 am

The cool cupboard under the stairs has done its job, and the cider is almost clear. I spent yesterday evening scrubbing the labels off old beer bottles. I wish there were an easier way ! Too many have that nasty rubbery glue that comes with self adhesive labels. Quite a few of the difficult bottles were from these new "craft beers". We have one such brewery here, which I have had a look round - they buy the brewing kit as a package, the suppliers install it, give you some recipes, help you with the first brew, then supply you with ingredients. I suspect they print the hard to remove labels for you too. The downside of this is that this rush of new local breweries are all making almost identical beers Rolling Eyes

Anyway, I digress. Hopefully bottling tonight. I want to add a fizz, so a little sugar will go in each bottle. I plan to keep the bottles in a warm place, in a plastic box to catch the debris in the event of explosion ...
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Post by Ploshkin 2nd November 2016, 9:53 am

Often with hard to remove labels you can get them off by applying heat to the back. In the case of jars and bottles fill them with water as hot as you can. It doesn't always work but mostly I find it does.

A bit of fizz sounds like playing with fire!
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Post by Chilli-head 4th November 2016, 11:09 pm

Playing with fire is a personal favorite pastime !

It is in its bottles now. No bangs yet, fingers crossed !
I need to figure out how to adjust my crown corking tool - it pulled the top off the first couple of bottles. The instructions are unclear, but there is an obvious wing nut that must adjust something ...

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