It's cider time at St. Benedict over the Apple Tree, the semi-official name of our home. (The Historical House had its own proper name, and I do miss the days of being able to say--with a hint of smugness--"It doesn't have a number." Sic transit gloria mundi.)
Last year we were very stingy with our cider, as it took so much work and we got only 9 litres. Thus we still have many bottles of last year's cider, with which we hope to be more generous this autumn. This year Benedict Ambrose is also much, much better than he was last cider season. If you recall, he was still recovering from a summer of radiotherapy, poor man. I have indelible memories of B.A. giving up and going to bed while I grimly toiled through the night, apple splatters everywhere.
Making cider is easy but labour intensive, and I am glad we are doing it over two or three days instead of in one great day-long swoop. I wish now that I hadn't been cheap and had got a slightly bigger apple press and glass bottles instead of plastic, but it's all very experimental at this stage. Because our 2018 cider was so dry, this year we're using proper sweet cider yeast instead of champagne yeast.
Our apple tree is so big, its branches stretch out to our neighbours on either side and to at least one neighbour at the back. We have invited the neighbours we know to take the apples from "their" side (legally they're ours even though they're over their gardens), and as luck would have it, the apples are thickest--and most easy to reach--in our neighbour's garden to the left.
They are really delicious apples. Sadly we still don't know what kind they are. I've toyed with sending a sample to a professional apple expert. Maybe this year!
Update: We're going to increase production, so we will resume next weekend. This weekend we made just 7 litres of apple juice, which we got from 100 apples.
I also labelled our little bag of Campden tablets ("Dangerously corrosive") after absentmindedly licking some sodium metabisulfite that got on my hand and spending an hour on the phone with NHS 24. I have a weeny burn on the roof of my mouth and a some resentment against the brewing supply shop for having no warning on their label.
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