Up and down the country it is the time of wonderful abundance of apples and, in a super growing year like this one, many of us farmers and gardeners alike have a great crop. Our orchard at Little Comfort Farm was planted in 1977 and contains only eating apples. Whilst we love apples, a whole orchard full is too much even for us. So several years ago we were lucky enough to meet up with Linda and George from West Lake Farm who are award-winning juice makers – and cider and cider champagne as well!. They have been turning our tasty apples into delicious juice for many years now.
This Autumn, having booked our slot at West Lake and checked that the apples are at the peak of perfection, the first task is to shake the trees and bag up the apples.
Roger then drives them down to Chilla, Near Beaworthy – with 1.2 tonnes this year! – where George and Linda work their magic.
The apples are sorted, checked for bruising, washed, pulped and squeezed to extract the juice. The juice is left overnight in a settlement tank for the sediment to settle and then the juice is drawn off and bottled – the only addition being a touch of vitamin C to help it keep its colour. Once bottled, it is pasteurised in a water bath and then you have the simple, pure, delicious organic apple juice that we all love. This year we kept the varieties separate and so we have Lord Lambourne, Lord Lambourne mixed with Golden Delicious, Discovery mixed with Laxton Exquisite and another Laxton we can’t remember the name of! I wonder which one will be the favourite? The Crispins we have left on the trees for now as they ripen as the weather gets colder and provide us with apples right up to and beyond Christmas.
Apples also feature in a lot of my home made chutneys and jams and our dehydrator has been working over time making dried apple rings that are loved by all the family.