Welcome to the world of apple harvesting and pressing with Daylesford’s fantastic Head Market Gardener, Jez Taylor.
At Daylesford we enjoy showing adults and children the fun of apple harvesting and pressing. We explain how to obtain the nectar within the juice of the apples, which is a truly alchemic process. We have over 200 apple trees at Daylesford, which include a wide range of heritage varieties such as Ashmead Kernal, Green Sleeves and my personal favourite Blenheim Orange (this is a great dual purpose apple as it is good for cooking but also a good eater come December). We begin our apple season at Daylesford in the middle of August with varieties such as Discovery and George Cave. Such varieties can be quite tangy and sharp at this time, but a good balance of sugar and acidity is ideal for making apple juice. As we get to October this is prime apple picking time as there is wider range of varieties to choose from including cooking apples – don’t be afraid to use cooking apples when juicing they are just as good. Some eating apples can make a juice incredibly sweet and cloying, but if blended with one of the less acidic cooking apples such as Newton Wonder or Bountiful, then a more balanced qwoffing juice is created. The end of the apple picking season usually comes around the time of the first frost which is normally in the middle of November. Just before this I will head out to the many apple trees with harvest still on them and pick as many cooking apples as possible ensuring the apples picked are not bruised. Cooking apples last longer so you can store them throughout the rest of the winter and still make apple juice (I usually store the apples until March in a cool, dry place).
Now onto the actual juicing process which you can also do at home, this involves three bits of kit, the scratter/mill, the press and the pasteuriser (all can be purchased through Devon based company Vigo). We begin with the scratter/mill – this tool mashes the apple to a pulp. The pulp is then put into a muslin or cloth bag and pressed in the press to release the juice. The juice can then be consumed straight away or stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, however, by then it is probably starting to ferment and will start to fizz. Some people do quite like this fizzy stage, but essentially the fizzier the juice is becoming, then the more alcoholic and yeasty it is, which is the beginning of the journey towards cider. If you are looking to keep the juice for long periods of time then pasteurisation is the best method, this is when the juice is put in sealed glass bottles and brought up to a temperature of 70oC for 20 minutes. When the juice has been pasteurised it can then last up to two years.
Apple juicing is definitely a really fun activity for those that live in the countryside and have ample of apple trees around them. Children really enjoy going out and picking the apples and the pressing, although hard work, can be very rewarding for the parents. If the idea of pressing the apples at home doesn’t excite you yet, you can always head out with your kids to pick the apples and then take them to a local cider presser who will usually press them for you for a small charge. I really enjoy apple pressing as it allows me to have a never ending supply of apple juice for the kids but also it is a great gift when popping over to friends or family.
One of the prime times to come and see us in pressing action is at our Harvest Festival which is on 20th September this year. Here we will show you the exact process we go through, so it is the perfect opportunity for you to gain an understanding for the juicing process and also a chance to try fresh juice from numerous apple varieties. Hopefully I will be seeing you there.
CIDER & APPLE JUICE MAKING – Friday 17th October 2014
Join our artisan cider maker Jez Taylor to learn the principles of apple juice and cider making with tastings of dessert, culinary and cider fruit juices. We shall be collecting, picking and pressing, and at the end of the day participants will leave with a 25 litre barrel of juice to ferment and make delicious home-made cider.
£140 per person; includes a theory, demonstration and practical session, 25 litres of juice, lunch, refreshments and all course material. One day course 10am – 5pm.
To book call the Daylesford Cookery School on 01608 731620