NWR Cider-pages.... The process has been started.

sorry to hijack this thread somewhat, but friends of ours have a farm locally and were complaining at lunch this week that they have an enormous apple harvest and no idea what to do with it.

What is the minimal set of equipment needed to make cider? I'm guessing I need press, scratter, fermentation vessels, hydrometer, then of course bottles. Can anyone recommend a good resource for learning how to do this (as you can tell, I'm a total amateur)?. I'm ridiculously excited and it's all I can do to stop myself telling my clients I've given up and become a cider maker :)
 
Your 'kit list' is about it Ben. In addition, large plastic tubs come in handy for various parts of the process. A crown capper is a worthwhile investment too, and maybe something to rack into (eg a load of demijohns). That said, I had the first bottle of my 2021 cider last night from a batch that was bottled straight from the fermentation vessel and it was glorious and crystal clear.

The big decision you have to make is what size press to get. An 'enormous' harvest sounds like it might need something pretty substantial or you will be forever filling and emptying the press. We have a dozen trees in our orchard of varying sizes and get away with an 18 litre press. We have to do about 5-6 presses a year. Any more than that and I'd buy something bigger, albeit they are not then cheap.

My mate, on the other hand, has a huge thing and so he only does a single press.

In terms of process it is incredibly straightforward. At its simplest....pick, wash (one use of the big tubs), chop in half (and remove rotten bits), scrat, press, tip juice into fermentation vessel, measure gravity, leave somewhere cool to ferment, bottle when gravity indicates fermentation has finished/nearly finished, drink.
 
thanks Jon - when I say enormous harvest, it's not so much the number of trees but unusual abundance on those trees. I was thinking 18 litre press as a starter so that makes sense. As ever with these things experimentation is the best way to learn I'm sure. I'll try to have a few fermentations with different variables in play.
 
Worth seeing if there is a local “tool library” or similar - locally to us you can rent all this equipment by the day for a minimal fee (essentially it is all run on donations and volunteer time. On a larger scale, where I grew up many local farms shared a press which can be used for a minimal fee - if you know who to ask!

I think a garden shredder can be used for mulching if needed, I imagine it is remiss and inauthentic to pay too much attention to hygiene….
 
well we're currently in negotiations - quite a few apple trees apparently, but shared among a reasonably large number of family members. I'm trying to stay calm but it's all I can do to stop myself buying a tractor. I'm not sure we could import foreign apples to Kent Eric, although maybe I could set myself up as a "flying cidermaker". Brandy is a superb idea but I should walk before I run. I've been buying (excellent) cider from Nightingales at a tenner per 75 cl so justifying all expenditure using that calculation.
 
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