Regular visitors to the CL blog will know that, a few months ago, I visited a neighbour of mine, Sara Ward, who is behind the wonderfully inspirational Hen Corner, a self-sufficient pocket of paradise, where she raises chickens, keeps bees, grows every vegetable imaginable, makes jam and chutney… the list goes on. See her brilliant blog here. Her energy is ongoing – I’m envious! – and she also enjoys spreading the word to anyone who loves the country way of life but has an urban postcode. With this in mind, she runs courses from henkeeping to preserving, so others can get a taste for themselves then try it at home. So when I heard that Sara was doing her annual cider-making event, Cider Sunday, I jumped at the chance to visit again and join in.
Bucketfuls of washed apples sat waiting – they’d all been collected from the ground and harvested from the trees in Sara’s garden, plus everyone who’d come to help had brought supplies. I had to buy some to supplement the three that my tiny tree had produced this year!
We cut the fruit into quarters, taking care to remove any badly bruised or maggoty bits (this all went to the grateful chickens!) and put it into plastic containers, then it was put into the crusher, which was worked by hand to crush it all up before being put into the press – again worked by hand. Cider-making is pretty physical work! The liquid was squeezed out into a large container, which finally went into a demijohn to ferment.
The end result will be ready just in time for Christmas. It’s perfect with ham, says Sara. And showing that really every part of the fruit is used to the max, the leftover pulp will be used for making chutneys and jam – an ethos that we love here at Country Living. The sun beating down made it an even more wonderful day in Sara’s beautiful garden – it was great to be part of one of her stimulating sustainable and country-inspired projects.