How To Make Real Cider
- The apples are washed and checked for rot or mould. Apple which are rotting should be discarded.
- The apples are crushed in a machine called a scratter which chops them up into small pieces. They are now called pulp.
- The pulp is placed in layers on a press and then the juice is extracted.
- If a traditional screw or hydraulic press is used the pulp is wrapped in fine mesh cloths, like parcels, and about eight of these are used to make one pressing – called a cheese.
The natural yeasts in the apples start the fermentation and several months later you have cider.
The apples which are used in The West Country & other certain parts of the country are cider apples, which are grown specifically for the purpose of making cider. Cider apples are generically identified as bittersweets and bittersharps.
With most ciders the greater the variety of apples used, the better as they all have different characteristics. In recent years a number of Producers have starting making cider and perry from single varieties of fruit; these produce an interesting & sometimes surprising result from a tasting point of view.
In Somerset and other areas of the West Country, layers of straw were used instead of cloths. Some producers still use this method.
In Herefordshire it was the tradition to use horsehair, but there are no known producers who still do this in the Herefordshire area.
In the Eastern Counties – Sussex up to Norfolk (& including Kent) – the tradition for cider is to use a mixture of eating and cooking apples, although a number of producers in Norfolk are growing cider apples as well.
Time of the Year
Producing or making cider this takes place from late August to early in the New Year and depending on ambient temperatures, fermentation can take until the following spring.
- There is a flat rate of duty on cider up to 7.4«v.
- You pay on the quantity made.
- A higher rate is paid for ciders between 7.4% and 8.5«v.
- A higher rate of duty is levied on cider using mushroom closures, mainly made using the champagne method.
- A duty exempt limit of 70 hectolitres per year (about 1500 gallons) helps the very small, local producers.
- Duty is controlled by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)