Mid to late September is cider making time. It’s been a thing in our family for the last 38 years (apart from one year, during a disasterous move to Wales). For the last 15 – 20 years aples have been sourced from a beautiful old fashioned orchard just outside of Faversham. It is owned by a delightful chap who doesn’t spray chemicals, in fact he doesn’t even pick any of the apples.
It must be one of a few remaining traditional apple orchard in Kent. Nowadays apple trees are dwarf size, economics dictates, beauty and tradition die, harvest time has become mechanised. Years ago people from London’s Eastend used to come down to Kent during their holidays to pick apples and hops, to earn a bit of money and to be out in the fresh air. On one of our favourite walks up to Telegraph Hill, you come across the remains of hop pickers shacks. A reminder of how vibrant the countryside once was.
But, as the great Ronnie Corbett says “I digress”.
Most years we make about 80 gallons. The process from start to finish takes about 4 -5 days. It is a real marker in the year, the last goodbye to summer before the onset of darker days.
The apples are milled twice, one coarser and another finer mill.
Then the finely ground apples are racked into muslin covered ‘cheeses’, stacked on top of each other and then covered with a wooden slab and pressed using a car jack. It is all delightfully Heath Robinson, but it works well.
We could go electric which would cut the time dramatically, but where would the fun and sense of achievement be found in that? Its a great thing to all work together, great fun and good excercise. During the winter months as you take a sip of cider, you are reminded of those glorious early autumn days, in the fading sunlight when you were picking, milling and pressing.