Saturday, 19 October 2013

'Tis Apple Pressing Day in Stoke Climsland

For many years now there has been an Apple Pressing Day at the Old School in the village. We are lucky living in a good apple growing area and the crop this year has been particularly good. People bring along their apples in carrier bags, boxes and crates and get them squeezed in a hydraulic press owned by a local orchard preservation group. The juice is decanted into bottles (some to be pasteurised later), jugs and carboys, to be drunk straightaway, frozen or converted into cider. One presser I was talking to today was hoping for around 1500 litres of juice for cider! Not all for his own consumption, I would add, as I know he distributes it amongst his friends. A delightfully rural pastime and I've taken a few photographs so that any latent pressers can get a feel for what's involved. And the end-product? The samples I had today were delicious - fresh, appley and natural. If only our trees could be productive enough so that we could have our own cuvee each year. But they are not, so we don't.
The apples come in all varieties - dessert, cookers and cider types - and all quantities. A quick wash and they are ready for juicing. The pressers get around 750mls juice per 1 kg.
The first step of the process is to pulp the apples by putting them through a glorified garden shredder.
The pulp is stacked in square blocks wrapped in sacking cloths. Each one of these is called a 'cheese'.
The completed stack of cheeses in topped with a wooden block and then the hydraulic press is started. It gets up to around 300 bar.
And here is the juice flowing. The only processing it gets, if it can be so called, is passage through a muslin bag to trap any bits coming through. If you have never tried fresh pressed apple juice, you are missing something. The extracted pulp gets recycled for composting or fed to pigs. 

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