We generally start pressing apples from mid-August all the way through to the end of November, sometimes into December depending on the harvest and weather!
Here are some of the questions we are asked:
1. How much does it cost?
There are several options.
a. Pressing and pasteurising with new bottles and new caps – £1.60 per 75cl bottle (this may increase slightly depending on the latest prices of the bottles we use)
b. Pressing and pasteurising re-using your cleaned and sterilised bottles, and using new caps – £1.05 per 75cl bottle
c. Pressing and pasteurising re-using your cleaned and sterilised bottles and caps – £1.00 per 75cl bottle
d. Pressing for cider – using your own fermentation bins and cider-making equipment – £0.65 per litre. You can also freeze your apple juice if you decant into smaller plastic bottles once home.
2. Do I have enough apples?
The minimum amount is 2 full carrier bags (which is enough for about 8 – 10 bottles. We also do contract pressing for other businesses and, so far, no amount is too large for us! We also sometimes have surplus apples so it may be possible to blend your apples with some of ours to make up the right quantity. Please ask us for more information.
3. How much juice will my apples turn into?
It really depends on the apples, some are naturally juicier than others, and our rack and cloth press is very efficient. One full trug of apples (roughly equivalent to a 25kg feed sack) could provide enough apple juice to fill about 14 75cl bottles. Let us know if you need to put a cap on the number of bottles you want produced.
4. What sort of apples?
Desert, cooking or cider – your choice. Although you wouldn’t want to eat a cooking apple they often provide a nice crisp palatable juice, whereas a desert apple will make sweeter juice. Lots of people will blend whatever apples they have, so a few cider apples in the mix shouldn’t hurt.
5. What sort of condition should the apples be in?
Basic rule of thumb: bring apples that look good enough to eat. Heavily bruised, muddy or ‘slugged’ apples will not produce nice juice and we may reject a delivery of apples if we think they aren’t good enough. Apples will still ripen off the tree so you can pick your apples when you notice them starting to fall and perhaps wait a week or two to further ripen. Windfalls are fine if they have only just fallen and there are no livestock in your orchards.
6. I’ve got enough apples to try making cider. What should I do?
We can certainly press the apples for you but we are not experts at making cider and would strongly recommend going on a course or reading up on it. Orchards Live (www.orchardslive.org.uk) run very affordable introductory courses every autumn, and Andrew Lea’s website (www.cider.org.uk) and books are good and accessible.
7. So. I’m ready to go. What is the process?
You ring us when your apples are nearly ready, tell us how many (roughly) you have and we arrange a suitable time for you to come and drop them off along with empty boxes for the bottles to be returned to you in (supermarkets are great for old wine boxes). We do have a some new plain cardboard boxes with dividers and we can sell these to you at cost (in 2017 they were £1.75 each). When you deliver the apples (our directions are on the Contact Us page) we will say when we expect to press them and will give you a ring or email when they are all pressed, pasteurised and boxed up ready for collection!
8. How do I pay?
Invoices are issued with the bottles and prompt payment is always appreciated. Cash, cheques or bacs. Full details are on the invoice.
9. I have bottles from last year. I’d like to re-use them. What should I do?
Bottles can be re-used if, once empty, they are rinsed and washed in warm soapy water. The metal ring from the cap should also be cut off (use wire-cutters). Leave to dry and loosely cap to stop spiders from making homes! Then store. Just before the next harvest, sterilise bottles (and caps if you want to re-use) in something like Milton’s, just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. We then give the bottles a quick rinse with water before filling with fresh juice.