By this point of the year we’ve experimented with just about every possible recipe for apples. We’ve made apple jam, apple pie, apple chutney, apple crumble, apple juice, apple cheese – the one thing we have done yet is to ferment them (at least not deliberately).
The big advantage of fermented foods is that they will keep for much longer than the raw fruit itself – so you can be drinking your cider next summer while you wait for the apples to arrive. Once the juice has been fermented to alcohol you can also make your own cider vinegar, and homemade vinegar is fantastic for cooking with in the kitchen.
We did have grand plans for the weekend to make all sorts of apple pies, leathers, and crisps, but in the end pulping and pressing the apples to make cider was enough to keep us all busy. Memo to self : buy a bigger press next year!
That said it was a lot of fun to press the fruit, and with a few folk round to help out, the afternoon passed quite quickly. When our chain gang tired we we rewarded them with a break for apples, cheese, chutney, and last years apple wine – the perfect accompaniment to a day of cider making.
As we speak we now have 4 gallons of juice fermenting away in a secret location. Suprisingly only one of those is cider – this was due to the relative scarcity of eating apples in our stores – the few cooking apples we did add was beginning to make the juice quite acidic. The other 3 will hopefully go on to create perry – 2 gallons of conference pears (they’re very juicy), and 1 gallon of what I think might be Doyenne du Comice (a fantastic pear, but these were windfalls).
Only now that we have started the fermentation did I bother to read some instructions for how to make cider and perry. I can report that we have failed to obey most of the rules – but hey, isn’t that most of the fun? I’ll keep this blog updated with the progress of our juice, and fingers crossed we might have something to drink next year when we do this on an even BIGGER scale 😉