Part of our plan here at Bracken Farm has always been to try our hand at making Cider and to that end we thought we should also plant some cider apple trees which we can harvest in future years when they mature! So far we have 40 trees planted with a further 10 arriving in Jan 2022 to complete the orchard plans. They range from Warrior and Hasting varieties, to Bramley, Jonogold, James Grieve and Discovery. The last 10 will be Kingston Black! It's going to take a while but we hope our small 1 & 2 year old trees will end up tall and heavily laden with fruit!
Initially we used local windfall apples, of which we were amazed at how many local people were willing to donate theirs. After posting on social media we had some great responses of people offering their apples and as we already have a relationship with the owners of Kelham Hall we were able to get more than enough to try our first cider making in October 2021. We spent time collecting them then washing them ready for pressing.
After washing, we chopped, then pulped and finally pressed the apples collecting 50 litres that went straight into our fermenting tubs with added nutrients and cider yeast. The hydrometer measured at 1065 meaning we would be left with a 6.5% abv level when the cider had fully fermented. All went well and we bottled for secondary fermentation adding sugar for a slight fizz when it came to opening the bottles in the future.
We really enjoyed the process, calling our cider 'Muskham Calling' and made a second batch in early November that's now bottled and ageing for 2022. We are going to look at how we might speed up the process of chopping, pulping and pressing the apples for the future when the volume of fruit increases! It's quite time consuming and tough work using the press!
Our plan is for guests staying at the glamping site to get involved if they want during their stay, be it orchard maintenance during the year or harvesting, pressing and making cider with us as well as tasting when ready! There might even be the odd wassail in the future and maybe even a little cider-fest!