Cider and fruit juice making
Making cider or apple juice is absolutely feasible in the home, now that small presses are available for sale. Cider and apple juice represent an excellent way of using apples that you are unable to eat because of excess production.
While all types of apple juice can be fermented, a good cider needs the acidity and tannins of specific cider varieties (Camalot or Camelot, Ellis Bitter, Dabinett, Kingston Black, Hereford Redstreak, Tom Putt) to give the resulting cider its depth of flavour and complexity. Cider apples are so tannic and acid that they are inedible as dessert apples. As you progress from year to year, you will want to try blending the juice from these varieties with some juice from dessert or cooking apples. Soon you will be making your own super vintages! There are many online guides to the cider-making process. We recommend the book “REAL CIDER MAKING on a small scale,” by Michael Pooley & John Lomax. In brief, the apples have to be pulped, pressed, fermented and bottled. Equipment can be home-made or purchased, as you prefer.
The story of apple juice
Up to the late 1970s, apple juice was available in shops, but compared to orange juice, it was a minor article. The quality was nothing to write home about. It was re-constituted juice made from concentrates, from various countries, to which water was added. It was a factory process and the taste was very bland and of no comparison with freshly-made juice produced direct on farms. There were no problems in the supply of apples for juice. At that time there were large surpluses of apples, due to the over-supply of French Golden Delicious. As the French growers were encouraged to export these apples to the UK in a green and totally immature state, they were neither golden nor delicious! And so the juice had no taste either. A great pity as a proper ripened Golden Delicious is indeed a very tasty crisp apple.
Today’s freshly pressed apple juice is a wonderful and tasty product. Healthwise, it is far better for humans than any juice made from concentrates. These industrial juices are still available as cheap items in supermarkets, all over the world. However you can now make real high-quality freshly-pressed juice from your own surplus apples. This ensures that all this goodness does not go to waste, rotting underneath the trees. After all, there is a limit to what you can eat fresh before the apples become over-ripe. There is now very reasonably-priced equipment available, ideal for garden-scale production rather than complete orchards. Furthermore many people share the cost and the use of a small fruit press, achieving excellent results. Again there is a limit to the volume of juice that you can use immediately. But that does not need to be a problem. Even unpasteurized juice keeps very well as long as it has been put in plastic bottles and put in the freezer as soon as you have pressed the fresh apples. You can shake the tree and let the apples drop on the ground. However once on the ground the apples must be used on that day. If not, the apples begin to deteriorate very quickly in taste and flavour, and various fungi such as brown rot will destroy your fruit. Obviously you can pasteurize the juice. In that case no freezer is needed and the juice will keep in good condition in glass bottles for a year or two depending on the variety used.
Some fruit recipes
There are many traditional recipes made using two types of fruit. Here are a few examples of recipes that we have enjoyed for many years and have become firm family favourites.
PLUM AND APPLE CRUMBLE
8 oz flour
4 oz butter
2 oz sugar
Dice the apples, remove the stones from the plums, and boil them briefly. Drain and place in an oven dish. Mix the flour and butter with your fingers, until it has reached a breadcrumb-like texture. Add the sugar. Spread on top of fruit, and cook in the oven at 180°C, until the topping has reached a pale brown colour. Mmmm, this is really delicious… whether on its own or accompanied by some custard or whipped cream.
Other fruit pairs can be used. For example, apple and pear, plum and peach, apple and apricot…
Use 2 oz of porridge oats instead of flour. Chopped nuts can also be used.
APPLE AND QUINCE SAUCE
4 small apples
Half a pint of cider
3 oz sugar
1 oz butter
This is a great combination of the sweetness of apples and the complex tartness of quince. The recipe was used by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey in York. Peel, core and coarsely grate the fruit. Put the grated quince in a small saucepan, pour in the cider and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Add the apple and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Stir well with a wooden spoon to make a thickish pulp. Add the sugar and cook gently until it has all dissolved. Stir well and add the butter. This sauce goes well with roast pork or goose.
The following recipe is made just with apple and other ingredients, but it’s such a wonderful and simple stuffing that we thought we’d include it.
NUTTY APPLE STUFFING
3 sticks of celery
1 green apple
3 oz of chopped nuts
1 large carrot
2 oz of butter
2 teaspoons of mixed herbs
Mince the celery, apple and carrot. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients, mixing well. Season well and use to stuff breast of lamb or duck, goose, or the neck end of a turkey.