Apple Pressing and Cider Making

Beginner’s Luck

The cider I made two years ago was brilliant.

I’m not being arrogant – that’s just what others told me.

It must have been beginner’s luck as I really didn’t know what I was doing.

I used natural yeasts which are on the apple skin – apparently they’re quite unpredictable and some cider makers kill them off and then add manufactured yeast to start the bubbling process.

We pressed the juice at an apple day here at the garden with the help of Lingwood Care Farm volunteers and some neighbours and produced quite a dry cider.

Another go

This year I decided to try again.

But instead of borrowing a hand-powered scratter (apple crunching machine) and small hobby press I decided to try out an ultra efficient electric scratter and hydropress (powered by water pressure) like the one I’d seen used during my brief visit to Axel and Angelika’s in Northern Germany.

I was lucky – I tracked one down at the Good Life Home Brew shop in Norwich.

I couldn’t believe how easy it was – especially with the help of Lee who was in charge at the shop.

They charge £25 for an hour and claim that one of their customers has managed to press one and half tonnes of apples in that time.

I was pretty sceptical but actually it’s a very efficient quick process and well worth the 12 mile trek there to do it.

I took us about half an hour to process six big crates worth (maybe 140kg) and we came away with about 70 litres of juice.

Don and Jane took about a third, I froze a third and the rest is now in a plastic barrel with an airlock in the shed in the first stage of fermentation.

I used a hydrometer, which is like a thermometer, but which measures the sugar levels in the juice.

As the microbes and bacteria really get to work they turn the sugar into alcohol and so the sugar content should decrease.

I will measure the brew again with the hydrometer over the next week or ten days  to get an idea of whether the initial and sometimes quite violent fermentation has finished.

Then it’s time to rack off (transfer the cider) to another container where I will leave it to go through a secondary fermentation process.

Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn to cider vinegar!

We haven’t wasted anything. The pomace (what’s left of the fruit after pressing) has gone to the lovely pigs at Lingwood Care Farm.

What I really loved was the camaraderie between Don, Jane and I.

I met them volunteering at the care farm a couple of years ago.

They drove to and from the home brew shop and helped pick most of the apples two weeks before.

When we got home we had warm quince cake which I wrote about in my last blog post.













To the lighthouse

I’ve just returned from Germany.

The highlight was the wedding of my friends Nick and Fynn.

They got married in a lighthouse on the North Sea coast of Lower Saxony.

The landscape feels very familiar yet different.

Flat green swathes of agricultural plain surrounded by an arc of blue sky are pierced by distant church spires and lines of trees.

Prehistoric standing stones mark an ancient barrow or burial ground.

This part of the world attracts birds like the heron, stork and crane as well as smaller birds such as wagtails, robins and wrens.

I saw a marsh harrier from the train.

On the Baltic coast wide expanses of mud flats and channels are revealed at low tide.

They fish here for brown shrimps.

After the wedding – a group of us was lucky enough to be invited to an old thatched farmhouse in Grossenhain, forty minutes drive away

Nick and Fynn’s friends live there – Axel bought it 50 years ago!

Angelika was kind enough to show me around the vegetable garden there.

She gave me some bean seeds to grow next year – Saxa, Red Kidney and Turkish Pea.

The Backhaus was built using reclaimed bricks some of them from the 12th century

We had homemade rye bread and courgette buckwheat soup for lunch in the old backhaus.

They mill the grain for flour here and bake in a huge bread oven.

Axel made apple juice with a hydropress.

I’d love one of these and may trial one next week at a local homebrew shop for £25 an hour if I can get some helpers to make it happen!

It doesn’t need any electricity – just water at high pressure piped into an internal rubber bladder which then forces the juice out.

Me and Rojana

I also stayed with a couple of Sacred Harp singers in the medieval city of Bremen – about an hour to the south of Wremen.

My host at the start of the trip was Rojana who writes and draws inspired by her dreams.

On my return to Bremen I stayed with Inga who is an excellent cook.

We went for supper at a Taiwanese restaurant in the “bohemian” quarter of the city.

Mock duck with orange sauce and pak choi, “chicken” and banana curry, buckwheat noodles and shrimp, mock tuna with green beans

We also cooked together.

This is one of the cakes we made!

Manner Torte, a hazelnut sponge covered with whipped “cream” studded with chocolate wafers

She also gave me the recipe for this vegan pate which is meant to resemble leberwurst or liver pate – but which is, in fact, infinitely superior!

We also had a sing at Inga’s – where I had the chance to renew old acquaintances and make some new ones.

I was exhausted when I got home!

5 from 1 vote
Red Bean and Smoked Tofu Pate (or vegan leberwurst)
Author: Cath
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200 g smoked tofu
  • 1 tin kidney beans, 240g net weight
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  1. Gently fry the finely chopped onion in olive oil until transparent 

  2. In the meantime, crumble the smoked tofu with your hands and place in the bowl of a food processor

  3. Open the tin of kidney beans and drain and rinse before adding to the tofu

  4. Add the fried onion and the spices and puree everything


  5. Add salt and pepper to taste