When we first made cider it was with the windfall from family and friends’ apple trees.
We hired a scratter and a basket press and everyone gathered on a sunny Autumn morning with their bags of scrumped fruit.
We used anything and everything.
People brought Discovery, McIntosh Red, Golden Noble, Howgate Wonder, George Cave, Egremont Russet, Cox, Gala, Greensleaves and Grenadier. We picked apples from the wildings around the woods and fields. Much of the fruit we couldn’t identify.
The kids drank the apple juice straight from the press until they got belly ache.
We put the 75 litres of juice at the back of the shed and waited. By the following Spring it was sharp but delicious.
That summer’s parties were fuelled with our first homemade cider.
Now we buy apples by the tonne and we ferment in stainless steel vats. But not much else has changed. We still only use local apples and – when it’s time to press and to bottle – our friends, brothers, sisters, parents and children still gather to lend a hand.