Orchard Origins’ first apple juicing course was a huge success. The first half of the morning session focussed on the harvesting and storage of apples including the difference between ready to pick and ripe to eat. Some apples – mostly early season varieties – are best picked and juiced on the same day. Late season apples, such as the Bramley Seedling, benefit from storage to allow their more complex flavour to develop.
After coffee, Laurence Green Orchard Origins project manager, conducted an apple tasting session in the orchard behind Lower House Farm. A bit like a wine tasting, apple tasting is an art that develops with practice. Recognising the different layers of taste in an apple – sweet, sharp, bitter, sour and savoury – is the key to producing a distinctive blend. A single variety juice can be delicious, but blending different apple cultivars will create a more complex juice with layers of flavour.
In the afternoon, the course moved on to the nuts and bolts of processing and juicing the apples. Using the hand scratter and press, five apple cultivars – Tom Putt, Tillington Court, King of the Pippins, Worcester Pearmain and Merton Worcester – were juiced separately. These were then mixed in different quantities and combinations until the group was happy with the flavour. It was then back to the orchard to pick the apples for the final blend. To juice a larger quantity of apples and speed up the whole process, the electric scratter and bladder press were used.
Finally, the juice was bottled, pasteurised and labelled. Everyone went home clutching bottles of Orchard Origins’ first Lower House Farm early season apple juice, a blend they had created themselves.
Orchard Origins are running more apple pressing courses in the autumn as well as courses on cider-making. If you are interested, you can find out more here Apple Juicing and Cider-Making Courses.