Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cider Making

My cider making season ends soon and what a productive one it has been!  I estimate that I have made nearly twenty gallons which should be ready for drinking around Christmas time.  There are four different types of apple; dessert, culinary, cider and general purpose.  Gloucestershire has hundreds of different varieties of apples which range over the four different apple types.  Many villages have their own specific variety which historically was put to one use or another.  Some colourful examples are Arlingham Schoolboys, Bastard Underleaf, Hagloe Crab and Hens Turd.  The latter is from the village of Rodley and the origins of its name are a mystery. 

Although we have loads of apples here in Bibury there does not appear to be one specific local variety and the closest ones appear to be the Ampney Red [from the village of Ampney Crucis being around 3 miles away] and the Siddington Russett [which is about 6 miles away].   Both of these are dessert apples.  I wish I could report on the 'Bibury Bastard' or even the 'Arlington Crab', but alas no. 

This part of the county does not appear to have been historically a cider making area.   Cider making was a very important part of the rural economy, in most areas, up until the First World War.  Each farm would have had its own cider mill and press and for much of the 18th and 19th centuries farm workers would have received part of their pay in cider. 

Due to the apparent lack of cider making locally, I am unable to find any cider apples and make do with a mixture of Bramley's [culinary], dessert apples and crab apples.  The latter are found in hedgerows and are a close relation to the cider apple being high in tannins and acids, both of which are crucial for a good cider.  The dessert apples add the all important sugar which is fermented into alcohol during the cider making process.  I have sourced these from two derelict orchards near to the Church which are full of different varieties and must have been glorious in their prime.

If you are interested in Gloucestershire apples then please go to the Gloucestershire Orchard Group website which is an excellent organisation.  If you are visiting the Cotswolds then an afternoon spent in the Severn Vale part of the county would be time well spent.  Only half an hour away from here and a fascinating place.  If you would like a glass of my cider then call into the shop around Christmas time and you will be more than welcome to have one.  Cheers!


  1. Having read this post several times, over a number of days, all it is doing is (a) making me want to own an orchard, (b) making me want to drink Gloucestershire cider and (c) making me want to eat an apple. Unfortunately, at present I've only been able to act on (c), but here's hoping my luck will change!

  2. I'll send you a flagon! But do you know the variety of the apple you ate?