Making Vale Cider

Making excellent cider depends upon attention to detail at every stage from growing the best apples to ensuring hygiene of equipment.

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

We hand-wash and sort apples to get them ready for scratting.

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

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

After pressing, the left-over dry pomace is fed to our pigs – they love it! (And the alpacas do too).

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.

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!

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