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About CiderYear

CiderYear is an annual project to produce good cider from apple to juice to cider at the scale of a few thousand bottles.

I made cider for the first time in 2020 on a very small home scale, a few dozen bottles. It was fun and it worked out OK. So I wondered how tricky it would be to scale up a bit – to produce something that other people might like to drink. So for the growing season 2021, I turned up the gas and went for about 2000 litres.

From a village just outside of Cambridge in England – here’s how it is all turning out.

here we go … Apples to Juice to Cider

It’s all about that juice…

For my cider making experiment I decided to use a mixture of apples grown locally in East Anglia and apples grown in the west of England where cider apple varieties are traditionally grown. I wanted to see what a cider blend between these two regions would turn out like.

This part of Cambridgeshire has always been big a fruit growing area in the past and there quite a few old orchards with some interesting varieties that are mostly dessert and cooking apples. Together these will make a lighter cider – both in colour and in taste. Fortunately neighbours and local farmers were very supportive in offering apples that they didn’t need. The 2021 growing season was fairly good near us so I was able to get together a pretty hefty quantity of local apples to go into my cider experiment, enough for about 800 litres of juice!

To source the west Country apples, I turned to Herefordshire close to the border between England and Wales. At first, I was intending to buy apples from the farm and process them myself but when they offered to supply the juice directly (saving all of that pressing), I jumped at it – saved loads of time. One day in early November we drove over and came back with 1200 litres of freshly pressed juice from Dabinett apples.

And so we have it, a combination of east and west – a kind of cider fusion.

Why Cider?

Here are my top 5 reasons to make cider;

  1. Cider is a beautiful natural drink – no fuss, just 100% pure apple juice fermented slowly.
  2. Cider has a long rural tradition – so its good to keep those local skills alive and use the annual apple harvest.
  3. Cider production is eco-friendly – the sun to ripen the apples and it uses very low inputs of energy in production.
  4. Cider is inclusive – it suits a wide range of diets including gluten free and vegan.
  5. It’s annual – you do it only once a year so there’s plenty of time to enjoy it once it’s been bottled.

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