How to make cider from Apples

We have eating apples in our garden and random apples are available in Priory Wood, about a kilometre away. Most of these random apples are quite eatable even if manu are a little insipid, though none are really outstanding. Cider Apple Tree About 100m from our house is an old wild apple which drops small fruits, maximum diameter about 55mm, most a lot smaller. The tree starts to flower early, has a long flowering season and is pretty. It also flowers and fruits prolifically almost every year (2020 has not been so good). In part this may be caused by its position: to one side it has a concrete area, beneath which it will be permanently damp and to the other is a deep ditch with water in it. The tree is very old - none of the local residents remember a time when it was not there.

A bucket full of wild apples
A bucket full of wild apples

One day in 2016 my wife tried one: it was hard, astringent and sharp. But as well it had incredible flavour - more than any other apple we have tried. So I picked up some and made them into vinegar. It was the best apple vinegar we have ever tasted. So good in fact that I decided to make cider from it the following year. That was 2017 when the resulting cider was excellent. It is a little to acid on its own, so we mixed with eating apple juice.

From this tree's characteristics I believe it is an old cider-apple tree. However there is no record of any local cider-making. If it is such it makes better cider than any other I have tasted and deserves to be identified or named.

Cider-making

Making cider is not difficult. For hundreds of years apples have been pressed and the juice simply left to ferment naturally to make cider. It is only very recently that we have learnt how to control the process so a repeatable product results. True, there are things that can go very wrong but this is probably not so common as you might think!

If you press apple pulp to extract the juice and leave it in a suitable vessel (such as a demi-john with airlock) so air cannot enter and carbon dioxide can escape, then the wild yeasts present will start to ferment the sugars and you should get cider. There is a lot more about cider-making on Andrew Lea's www site and his book is excellent.

There is also a Google group - the Cider workshop but it has lots of expertise and can make cider production appear more complicated than it is.

The characteristics of the wild tree's apple juice

Juice expressed from the apples
Juice expressed from the apples
Refractive index15 Bx
Specific gravity1060
pH3.08
These were measured with juice from fallen apples picked up in late November when they had been lying on the ground for several weeks. They are slow to rot and do not get quickly eaten by wildlife. The characteristics are not bad for cider, though the juice is a little too acid. However the flavour is such that it can be diluted with two volumes of less tasty juice without loosing much.

2019 was an extremely bad year for apples in Cambridgeshire, but this tree produced well, as did two not outstanding apple trees in Priory wood. Our own trees produced very few, so I made very good cider from these three trees.

The apple tree in flower. Mid April.
The apple tree in flower. Mid April.
The tree
The tree

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Written by Richard Torrens.
First published Saturday the 2nd of December, 2017
Last modified: October 18 2020 17:19:16.
© 2017 - 2021 Richard Torrens.