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Hitting late October now and the harvest is in full swing. The trees are laden with fruit, branches are breaking under the weight and one or two trees have come down completely; one of the potential hazards of allowing old trees to become biennual fruiters (essentially what can happen if left un-picked and unpruned). I also notice a number of trees have started to revert back to their rootstock genus.
We've spent a few wet days collecting apples and attempting to identfy some of the many varieties. This orchard was planted about 20 years ago and sadly no record was kept of what cider trees were put in the ground, but we're beginning to get 'an eye in' on the characteristics of each as we go.
We have also started pressing some of the earlier ripening varieties, namely Ellis Bitter and Dabinett, along with some extraordinary eating apples from nearby Tisbury. We'll be pressing periodically every couple of weeks as we pick more fruit.
Thanks to our trusty guide on traditional Somerset Cider Apples by Liz Copas, we've successfully identified the big wigs - Yarlington Mill [pictured], Ellis Bitter, Dabinett, Somerset Redstreak, Kingston Black, plus Browns, Woodbine, possibly Tom Putt and Stoke Red. A characterful mix.
Our plan is make one sizeable blend, possibly containing Browns, Ellis, Yarlington with a whisper of something else. This could also be accompanied by Kingston Black possibly blended with Redstreak and a little Browns, along with predominantly Yarlington Mill, a little Ellis and Dabinett.
As well as Cider we are very much looking forward to all the 'dregs' which we will turn into delicious cider vinegar for our Blood Tonic Cordial and other limited editions.