Cleared all of the remaining apples from our trees on Friday afternoon; we were surprised to find how much fruit was still clinging to the trees. We filled a number of 40 litre tubs with Royal Somersets (Sharp), Stoke Reds (Bittersharp), Yarlington Mill (Bittersweet) and Harry Master's Jersey (Bittersweet). I'm really pleased with the HMJ's - they are such beautiful apples and polish-up to a rich red lustre. In fact, I could get all prosaic and waffle on about how good looking some cider apples are when really ripe. I won't.
We mixed these with the unknown Bitters (definitely not Bittersweets) and unknown Sharps we collected from Dierdrie in Norfolk, and spent the rest of Saturday milling and pressing our time away. The weather was good, the November sunshine warm and welcoming. A great change from what we've experienced so far in our cider-making this year.
I must do some research to try to find out what the two varieties were that we brought back from Norfolk... Should have taken a photograph. Doh!
The juice was a rich red-brown in colour and slightly tart from the Sharps, but with an underlying dryness from the tannins in the Bitters and Bittersharps. I wish we had more to do a seperate blend, but we will have to blend it into the whole. So apart from these few bags of Norfolk-sourced apples, we are producing a cider which is going to be at least 90% pure Nottinghamshire-grown fruit - according to my calculator anyway (I always was crap at maths though!).
The end of the pressing on Saturday was rushed, as we were due to be picked up at 7 for a night out and meal with some of Gail's Ladies Hockey team - I was the token male. It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it...
We started off in the "Bread & Bitter" pub in Mapperley Top, owned and run by the guys from Castle Rock Brewery. Superb pub, great range of well-kept ales - but only one cider - Weston's "Stowford Press". So it was ales for me: Castle Rock "Harvest Pale", washed down with Thornbridge "Jaipur". Lovely. But I would have still preferred a good real cider or perry; I can get real ale anywhere! Well, almost...