Year 5- the orchard is growing up
This year has been a good one cider-wise, 2018's hot summer meant loads of concentrated sugar in the juice producing strong, flavour-packed cider that went down very well. The Nobody Inn, The Cridford Inn, The Real Al Company and Ye Olde Cider Bar have been great to me this year with a few other pubs taking some boxes here and there. I'm still struggling to get much traction in London but working on it.
The orchard is coming on great guns, I've now got 22 apple trees between 10 and one year old. The older ones are growing strongly, pretty much proper sized trees now, I remember planting them when they were smaller than me. It was great this autumn to get a proper harvest of apples that made a real contribution to the total haul alongside various old orchards in the local area. It should also mean that next year, weather permitting, I can start to experiment with single variety and specific blends rather than doing everything by taste from unknown apples as I do now.
The wood the orchard sits in has really started to come to life in the last couple of years as well, with more and more insects buzzing around the blossom in the spring as well as wild flowers and more bird song. We also have damsons and sloes (damson gin and sloe vodka!) as well as plenty of blackberries (snacking!). Thankfully there is still a dearth of mobile reception up there.
I've been experimenting this year and have spent the last few days down in Devon bottling my 2018 'Pet Nat' cider which will finish its natural yeast fermentation in crown-capped champagne bottles over the next five months or so, ready for next summer. I've also racked all the 2019 crop.
There feels like a growing momentum behind cider this year, lots of vocal people on social media pushing a craft cider agenda, new books and magazines. Social media is a bubble and whether that translates into a mass movement remains to be seen but 2019 closes out on real optimism.
Happy New Year everyone!