Twitter was useful!
I went to this cider making course back in November thanks to a RT.
One of the lecturer in DCU did this course with David Llewellyn two years previously and couldn't recommend it more. I thought I could do with getting my nose out of my books and off my multimedia screens for a day. This would remind me of dear childhood memories, when I used to make cider with my Dad in our bungalow's basement in Normandy. Perfect!
My childhood house in Normandy was built on an apple orchard which means that each garden in the neighborhood had apple trees: a wonderful sight each Spring when in full bloom! We had four trees which was more than enough for the family's consumption for a year. Depending on the yield after apple harvest I think we could produce between 200 and 300 bottles. My Dad drank the most of it of course and we often had left over bottles rolling from one year to the next. When I was a bit older I remember the pleasure of opening a cold bottle just brought up from the basement on a hot summer day. What a delight! Our pleasure was the true measurement of our ROI. This stuff probably could not have been commercialized but we absolutely loved it. You had to like Super Extra Dry! This was the most organic cider ever. Absolutely nothing added to it. Just apple juice and the action of time for fermentation. One year I even adventured into making Pommeau with the help of a gifted neighbor. These were the good times!
Picking up apples.
That's me with the apple on the head, with my older brother and sister.
When I was younger, it sometimes seemed to me that it was such a chore to go outside when it was so cold to pick up all the apples. Some other times is was just great fun, even getting my friends involved! We used to ask the local farm for huge plastic bags to store them until ready to call the press. Then we would spend long dark afternoons manually filling bottles and closing them down. I remember forcing the white plastic top with a hammer and be quick to keep it in place with a wire, just like the one used on Champagne bottles. This would create deep cuts in my fingers that would be there for weeks... I am absolutely amazed at bottle labeling machines available even to private producers. Even more in owe to learn only now that my class mates families used to buy wine in bulk and they would bottle their own wine at home on a regular basis. I'm sure this is still the case for a lot of French people!
Then it was time to call the farmer who had the machine to transform our apples into apple juice. This was always the occasion to get the camera out, and we were sure to see a few neighbors coming out of their houses for the great street spectacle it offered. We also made sure to have some empty glasses ready to taste the freshly pressed apple juice. The farmer's machine was a real Rube Goldberg contraption: a modified tractor which could wash, crush and press the apples in no time. It was very noisy. It looked something like this:
The Mobile Press.
This picture was borrowed with thanks on http://www.wineterroirs.com
It's great to see that others have documented the process so well on their own blog.
So quite amazingly, having to study and get more acquainted with Twitter has thrown me back into delightful childhood memories, and in the middle of a very ancient way of fermenting apple juice to get cider. I suppose: "the apple never fall very far from the tree" is a great expression to express how it's always coming full circle! The first thing I do when I win the Lotto is to buy an apple orchard!