Sunday, 3 May 2009

Cider House Rules

Mike and Ange and the marvellous cider barrel.
I hurt! My legs ache. My back aches. My backside aches! Why? It's all my brother's fault. Sometime last autumn he decided to rope Angela (his girlfriend) into helping him make cider out of the masses of fruit hanging from the trees at Mum's.
Mike shows off his first six bottles.
The initial washing, mashing and barrelling of the apples became a whole family affair for a couple of weekends. The kids loved helping out and getting joyfully mucky in the process. Mum has since babysat the barrel(s), incubating it over the winter, wrapping it cosily in sleeping bags and hot-water bottles, waiting for the time when it was ready for bottling.

Lining up the bottles for rinsing.
That time came this weekend. Over 200 bottles needed sterilizing and rinsing. The cider needed syphoning off and each bottle needed to be lovingly corked by hand. We set to, with a production line of washers and cleaners lining the bottles up on the drive, near the hosepipe.

Eartha and Saskia help to drain the bottles.

On top of that I had 9 demi-johns of matured wine to bottle. I remember making it with my Dad, which means it has been in the demi-johns for at least 3 years. Given its vintage, each batch needed tasting to ensure it was still drinkable. Each one tasted different, if somewhat potent. I chucked two of the unpotable demi-johns away and bottled the rest. It seems to have turned into some sort of sherry-damson-liqueur over the intervening years. Nice, but only in small glasses. Woe betide anyone that mistakes it for real wine.

Donny and Mel help to move the empty bottles, ready for filling.

Anyway, following all the grovelling for bottles on the drive and hunkering down under a spewing syphon, I ache all over. My poor muscles are just not used to standing in those positions for hours on end.

The bottled wine was labelled up with names like 'Sherry 3' and 'Dangerous 6'.

Mike and Ange filled the back of their car with bottles of cider. It hung low to the ground at the back, and there were still more bottles in the garage. The one bottle of cider Mel took, to give to his teacher, managed to half push the cork off overnight, so I dread to think what is going to happen in the back of Angela's car by the time they have driven back to Nottingham.

Some of the fruits of our labour: cider en masse.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my! That looks like a total blast! My kids and I would have loved to join in that action!


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