The good folks at BBC Radio Nottingham have been very supportive of our efforts to produce true, real Nottinghamshire ciders. They have also cottoned on to the fact that as Nottinghamshire's only commercial producers of real cider, we are a bit unique. OK I know we are a very small producer but size isn't everything (cough!).
Following a recent visit to the BBC Radio Nottingham studios to chat with Andy Whittaker (who is a very nice man) and taste our cider - at 8.20 in the morning I might add - a quick appeal for apples and pears has resulted in the good folk of Nottinghamshire answering the call to arms. We have been very pleased by the response of folks who have fruit to spare that would otherwise be going to waste, composted or left to rot. We don't want to take the best fruit, as for cider it doesn't really matter what it looks like or if it is a bit bruised. Lots of people have phoned us or emailed us to let us know what they have going spare; some folks like Mr. Chappel in Hucknall, just turned up at our base with the car loaded with ready-picked and boxed-up apples. How kind and cool is that?
However, we would just like to point out that we can only collect so much fruit per day - and Nottinghamshire is a big county - so if we haven't got back to you straight away, don't panic. Many varieties of apple are still not fully ripened sufficiently for cider-making (they need to be starting to soften) so always remember that just because they are falling from the tree does not mean they are fully ripe. Thankfully we didn't need to turn many folks down as nearly everyone heeded our plea that Bramley's are not too much use to us for cider - they contain too much acidity for cider unless left to ripen for some months.
So yesterday I wound my way around Nottingham's ring-road (joy of joys) to the little town of Ruddington, just south of the city. Here I met up with Verity Cowley, radio journalist for BBC Radio Nottingham and Dan Sinclair who is a 'back-room boy' if you like, at BBC Nottingham - whizz-kid with a camera and website production. We went first to Kathy and Ken's house who had phoned me offering Worcester Pearmains from their trees. I also spotted a pear tree in their garden and Ken kindly offered to let me have any spare Winter Nelis (the pear variety) for use in making a Nottinghamshire perry. An offer not to be refused! Verity followed the activities with microphone-in-hand getting sound bites and noises-off, while Dan snapped away from multitudinous angles and distances.
We then went across town to visit John and Jean, who had phoned me that very morning saying they had a couple of trees if I was interested...? John's garden was very large and impressive with neat lawns, productful vegetable plots and greenhouses, and some lovely big old apple trees: Beauty of Bath, Newton Wonder and some unknown apple that was very crisp and sweet, and reminded me of a Cox of some sort. John did point out a very large Bramley tree, but quickly added; "I know you are not interested in Bramley's..." The Beauty of Bath were a lovely deep red, very juicey and when cut open, showed red and pink tinged hues through the flesh. John thought they were too soft, but with a quick press of the pad of my thumb, the juice flowed - perfect state of ripeness for cider-making.
Once again Verity and Dan started recording sound and images while I spread out the tarpaulins under the tree and started to shake the apples down from the branches. John joined in and soon the apples were raining down and slapping onto the tarpaulins. Sack after sack were filled and the trailer was soon full of sweet-smelling apples. Time was against us so I am going back to John's to collect more of the Cox-like apples, perhaps in a couple of weeks when they will be riper.
The fruit of Dan's labours can be seen here on the BBC Nottingham website - just try to ignore the fat bloke with the glasses on... Verity's interviews and sound-bites will be broadcast on the morning of 30th September on BBC Radio Nottingham, between 8.00 and 9.00 am.
Great day, great fun. It is good meeting up with the friendly folk of Nottinghamshire.