By Charlie Robinson, Beechworth Sustainability
In my last article I bewailed my inability to produce even one drop of apple juice, despite a considerable investment in time, money, and expletives. Good luck came in the guise of my inventive brother-in-law who just happened to have a pork mincer, with attached electric motor, lying around the shed (as you do). The pork mincer performs the task of apple scratting to perfection. It looks like an over-sized meat mincer and seems custom made for the task at hand. Scratting is the process of turning fresh apples into a pulp that can then be pressed.
The quartered apples are simply shoved into the top chute and a knurled shaft forces the pieces through a sieve into the bucket at just the right consistency for pressing. The scratted, or pulped, apples are then placed into the press and compressed by hardwood blocks and the juice escapes through slats into the base and then flows into another bucket. A washing basket full of apples takes about an hour to scrat and press. This is enough to produce 25 litres of juice which I leave for a couple of days, skim off the floating residue, and pour into a fermenting vessel. You can drink the juice at this stage, of course. However, unless the juice is fermented it won’t keep more than a few days so we go on to the next step. After adding yeast and a kg of sugar, a lid with airlock is screwed on and the action commences. Before long you can see the gas bubbling through the airlock and you know that fermentation is happening.
Once the bubbling has ceased, between 7 – 10 days, you can then bottle the fermented juice. At this stage the liquid smells and tastes a bit rough but I’m assured that the taste will improve in the bottle over the next 3 – 6 months. I have been opening bottles at monthly intervals and, indeed, the cider is becoming more drinkable with each opening.
We are now in the middle of apple harvest so I’m really looking forward to producing our next batch of Pink Lady cider once the picking season is over.