Making Vale Cider

Making excellent cider depends upon attention to detail at every stage from growing the best apples to ensuring hygiene of equipment and close attention to every part of the cider-making process.

We collect the harvested ripe cider apples from our orchards in 300kg bins until we have enough for a full day of pressing.

Bins with Ripe Vale Cider Apples
300kg Bins with Ripe Vale Cider Apples ready for pressing

We hand-wash and sort apples to get them ready for scratting. We reject any that are rotten.

Washing apples at Vale Cider
Washing apples at Vale Cider before scrattign and pressing

We then mill the washed apples in a scratter to produce pomace (apple pulp).

Pouring Apples into Scratter at Vale Cider
Pouring Apples into Scratter at Vale Cider mill

We wrap the pomace in cloths and put them in layers between wooden slatted boards (racks) to make a pile of “cheeses” on the press.

Building cheeses for pressing at Vale Cider
Building cheeses for pressing at Vale Cider mill

The press then compresses the pile of cheeses so that juice runs out of the pomace and into a collecting tank.

Operating the cider press
Switching off the press at the end of a pressing run at the Vale Cider mill

After pressing, the left-over dry pomace and any rejected rotten apples are fed to our pigs – they love it! (And the alpacas do too).

Pigs eating cider apples
Pig eating rotten apples rejected from cider-making at the Vale Cider farm

The apple juice is transferred from a collecting tank to fermenting tanks that have an airlock to allow carbon dioxide gas to escape during fermentation, whilst preventing oxygen spoiling the cider.

Fermentation Tanks at Vale Cider
Fermentation Tanks at Vale Cider mill

The fermentation proceeds over a few weeks – slower later in the season because the temperature is colder.

When the fermentation stops the cider is “racked” (ie. transferred) into a maturing tank and the “lees” (solids) that are left behind in the bottom of the fermentation tank are discarded. The cider matures for several months over the winter – this is very important to allow the flavours to develop.

In the Spring we taste our base ciders and decide what combinations we will use to make that year’s ciders. This is rather a fun time for us!

Tasting New Season's Vale Cider in Orchard
Tasting the New Season’s Vale Cider in the orchard

We blend our base ciders and use sugar to adjust sweetness to the desired levels before bottling our final products.

Image showing differing types of cider product
Example of different types of cider product enjoyed by cider drinkers

Browse our Vale Cider products at our online shop

Find out about the apple varieties we use in our ciders

Learn about the Big Three Flavours of cider

Test you Cider Trivia knowledge with our Fun Cider Trivia Quiz