Sunday was a one of those warm, golden autumn days, perfect for dealing with this year’s bumper crop of apples. I borrowed this rather stylish fruit press from a friend and used it to juice a tub full of windfalls. I even managed to turn it into a fun family activity through the clever deployment of child labour. This is the charming daughter of some other friends who also have a massive crop of apples. Whilst our little helper was able to get us going, it took me, Mr Greedy Gardener and her dad to get the thing wound down tight enough to get a decent amount of juice. She was very excited that she and her little sister could make such magical stuff. They took several plastic milk containers full home with a bit of space left in the top so that they could be frozen.
I also used the press to extract the juice from the apples that I prepared last week in the first stage of making apple wine. I’ve had a very polite request from frugalfood to post the recipe, so here it is. It’s a bit difficult to summarise wine recipes; the method itself is quite straightforward, but there’s more to the science behind it than I can explain here. The recipe I’ve used is below, but for more details on the process, get hold of a copy of CJJ Berry’s First Steps in Winemaking.
It’s well worth having a go at your own wine as its very cheap and a great way of using up gluts of less than perfect produce. The basic kit costs just a few quid to buy from either a home brew shop, which these days will usually do mail order, branches of Wilkinson’s or charity shops. If you’ve never done it before, make a batch from a kit - you’ll have something drinkable in about six weeks and it familiarises you with the processes involved.
This makes about six bottles of a medium dry fairly potent brew - not so much a table wine as an under the table wine.
Wash and chop 24lbs of apples - they don’t have to be perfect but big bruises and wildlife are best removed. Put in a large tub or bucket and pour over a gallon of boiling water. When it’s cooled to blood heat, add white wine yeast and nutrient. Cover tightly and leave somewhere warm for a week, stirring every day - the water won’t completely cover the apples and you’ll need to make sure you bring the ones up from the bottom.
Juice the apples and to every gallon of juice, add 3lbs of sugar - I did a bit of judicious adding of fresh juice to make it up to two gallons. Put into clean, sterilised demijohns, fit an airlock and leave to ferment. It will need racking once the sediment has settled and the wine is clear. Drinkable after six months but better if kept for a year. Goes nicely with a bit of strong cheese or as an aperitif.