Monday 17 October 2016


An amazing apple harvest this year. We've been collecting fallers and easy-reachers for several weeks from the cooking apples - Bramley and two others we don't know the variety - and have picked a good crop off the crab apple. Today we went up on the scaffolding platform to pick more (not all!).

Unfortunately the eaters haven't done so well. The Russet which ripens early did fairly well, but the little Red Apple tree had hardly any fruit, the first time this one has had a bad year since we came here 10 years ago. The new trees, Elstar and Braeburn had nothing. We're looking forward to a good crop from the other Red Eater which ripens very late and should be ready in a week or so.

The Crab Apples, as usual, went into crab apple jelly, some plain and some with rosemary or sage in to eat with meat or cheese.

I usually cut up, cook and freeze the cooking apples ready for crumbles, pies and apple sauce during the winter and spring but now have freezers full of apples. Some go into chutneys and we wrap some in newspaper and store in trays in the conservatory. We still had buckets of apples so we decided to try something new - CIDER!

Plastic boxes with apples etc for cider

We don't have a cider press available so we Googled "Making cider without a press" and came up with a suggestion which involves freezing the apples for a few days. This apparently breaks down the structure of the apples in a similar way to crushing them. Well we had a go and put 5 lbs of the frozen apples, 1.5 lbs sugar, 7 oz yeast and  6 pts cold water into each of two plastic boxes with lids. (Buckets with lids are inexplicably much more expensive). Stir every 2 days. After 3 weeks test for sweetness - definitely cidery but we added some sugar because one was pretty "rough". Next stage is to rack off into demi-johns and let brew a bit longer. Let you know how it goes.

I've also made some Apple Cider Vinegar. Put 1.5 lbs cut up apples in a large wide-topped (Kilner) jars, 3 tbsps of Demerara sugar and fill up with water. Cover with kitchen towel and elastic band around - so air can get in but not flies). Leave on cupboard top in kitchem, stir every couple of days. It fizzes a bit and then after a week or so the apples start to sink. After 3 weeks pour off the vinegar. Filter into small bottles. Tastes quite good to me but will try again in a week or two.

I once did this by accident with a batch of crab apple juice I didn't get round to boiling up into jelly. It had nicely fermented and gone over into vinegar all by itself. So I had enough Crab Apple Vinegar to use in salad dressings and beetroot for a couple of years.

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