It’s that time of year again: Swap apples for cider (or learn to make your own?)
Fowey Valley, an artisan cider producer based in Lostwithiel, are inviting local people to bring their excess apples along to add to this years’ pressing, offering to swap fruit from small orchards and gardens for their award-winning apple juice or cider.
Owner Barrie Gibson says it has been a particularly good year for apples and, with a bumper crop expected, people may be wondering what to do with the fruit they can’t use themselves.
“There’s only so many apple pies, crumbles, chutneys and jellies you can make! Early and mid-season apples don’t keep, so we’re inviting people to bring along some of their crop, contributing towards our premium juices and ciders this year.”
He added: “With donated apples we usually end up with a mixture of 1/3rd sweet, 1/3rd sharp and 1/3rd cider apples, which happens to work very well with our own orchard mix.”
Barrie, who founded Fowey Valley Cidery in 2012, will only take apples from trees which haven’t been sprayed with pest-eradicating chemicals, and he also has some advice for getting the most out of the harvest:
“We encourage people not to pull the apples off the trees, but to shake them off. The apples will only fall off the tree if they are fully ripe; if you have to pull them or even twist them that means the starch hasn’t yet turned to the sugar we need for cider making.”
He adds: “Collecting them from the ground once they’ve fallen is fine so long as they haven’t started to go bad, but they get sorted again here and are washed twice before pressing.”
Donated apples can be supplied in any container, but Fowey Valley do have string sacks for collection for anyone who wants them; donations can be exchanged for apple juice or cider, with quantity determined by weight of apples.
Barrie is also offering to share his many years of experience, with a Friday afternoon class for beginners showing people how to make their own cider with domestic equipment.
The course covers the preparation and pressing of the apples, the science of starches, sugars, acids, yeasts and tannins, and finally tailoring the fermented juice to your preferred taste – flat or fizzy, clear or cloudy, sweet or dry, strong scrumpy or fine cider.
Three of the past winners of the Lostwithiel Cider Festival amateur makers competition are alumni of this course – it’s a great starting point for everyone from small-holders aspiring to self-sufficiency, to professional cider-producers in the making.
Barrie and the team will be pressing from mid-September to early November, and the production facility and shop on the Restormel Estate in Lostwithiel is open from 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
More details on cider making courses can be found on the website, www.foweyvalleycider.co.uk, and anyone with any questions about supplying apples can contact Barrie on 07707 049907.