We’ve had another bumper year and have finally found a few moments to raise our heads up from our apple presses. It’s non stop production at this time of year so we thought we’d take a bit of time out to tell you what we have been making and how you can get your hands on some of the appley deliciousness in time for Christmas.
The juices we’ve made
Sweetness and Light apple juice is a blend of the fresh, light flavours of Merton Charm, Chiver’s Delight and Red Devil with the fuller, nuttier Adam’s Pearmain and King of the Pippins to produce a sweet juice bursting with flavour. Our Lazy Days juice is crisp, sweet Merton Charm blended with just enough Bramley Seedling to give it a distinctive smooth flavour with a little kick. Pippin Marvellous, Orchard Origin’s current favourite, combines the sweet nutty flavour of Ashmead’s Kernel blended perfectly with the buttery acidity of King of the Pippins and Ribston pippin, creating a beautifully honeyed juice. And finally, our First Blush is pure and unfiltered McIntosh which presses to give the juice a subtle pink blush. It’s floral yet savoury and rumored to be great with Gin!
As well as our Juices, this Christmas you could buy a fruity friend our Apple Verjuice or our unpasteurised Apple Cider Vinegar. A visit to our online shop will get you started. Or if you are in Herefordshire pop into our gift shop.
Anything you buy from us helps support our work managing orchards throughout Herefordshire and supporting people with a history of mental ill health.
We are about wildlife, well-being and deliciousness!
It’s Harvest time
We at Orchard Origins have already picked and pressed our first batch of Apple Verjuice. We are keenly watching the the rest of our crop which will go into our apple juices.
Those of you with early season apple are probably already knee deep in baskets of the rosy sweet smelling bounty. Eaten straight from the tree and they’re delicious but if you have later varieties then they will need storing to develop the complex flavours that give them their superior (we think) flavours. Whatever you have, this is the time of year to really enjoy apples in all their regional glory.
Picking – cup the apple in the palm of your hand and gently lift and twist. If you have to tug at your apples they’re not ready to pick.
Storing – store in single layers in a well ventilated, cool, dark place. Sheds are ideal but makes sure they’re rodent free. If you’re uncertain, hanging a small number of apples in bags with holes for ventilation will solve the problem.
Tasting – keep at it, every week. You’re tasting to see if your variety has reached optimum sweetness. i.e. once all the starch has converted into sugar. Over time, this will become second nature as too much starch makes the apples feel a little powdery in your mouth with an absence of flavour. In the meantime, you could purchase some iodine, cut the apple in half and liberally pour over the flesh. If it turns black this indicates an absence of starch.
If you have more apples than you know what to do with and live in Herefordshire then why not get us to press your apples and bottle the juice. That way you can enjoy the flavours of your apples throughout the year. click here for more information on this service.
What better way to kick start July than sipping cocktails made with our delicious Apple Verjuice. The foragers Andy Hamilton and Liz Knight teamed up with The Botanist Gin to tickle our taste-buds at this enjoyable Wild Cocktail evening.
During the morning Andy and Liz led a walk of sixteen (including Orchard Origins Julia) eager to discover which wild plant they could safely forage. The Herefordshire hedgerows and verges were teeming with plants: Hogweed, Agrimony and Meadowsweet to name a few. Apparently, all good ingredients to add as botanicals to gin. The afternoon was dedicated to the art of gin making with Andy who led us sip by sip until we were all making our own blends.
The proof of the pudding came that evening as guests rolled up to a Wild Cocktails and Burger Night set on a picturesque farm nestled into the black mountains with views of Hatterall Hill and the Skirrid. Our Apple Verjuice starred in the Apple Rose cocktail, which went down extremely well.
We put a lot of love and attention into the production of our verjuice, managing the orchard in a wildlife friendly way, harvesting by hand and bottling with a team of dedicated volunteers.
Our friends at Marcher Apple Network have organised visit to a very large fruit tree nursery – fascinating place and not usually open to the public. If you can be in Herefordshire and fancy going along please see flier and contact Jilly directly. (we’ve been and it is an education)
Verjuice was certainly widely used across Europe by the Romans (and may have been used prior to this) and its use persisted as a cooking ingredient throughout the Middle Ages. Unripe grapes were thinned to increase quality and ripening, and with a waste-not-want-not culture they were pressed to produce a souring agent. Since the Romans introduced orchards as they travelled, we suspect that the same process would have been used to produce apple verjuice.
Using a select blend mix of apples from our very own orchard in Herefordshire, we have developed our own truly unique apple verjuice. Pleasingly sour, like lemon juice or vinegar, with a little sweetness to complement its intense fruitiness, the only thing it really compares to is tamarind.
We like to use it to add depth and sharpness to dressings, stews, condiments and soups, and an exciting substitute for sauces where white wine is called for (it is divine in a beurre blanc). It’s delicious in marinades for white meats and fish, gives a unique twist to cakes, and can really enliven cocktails and mocktails!
Go to our shop and list of stockists to find where to buy this and our other deliciously appley products.
Gala is now the biggest selling apple variety in the UK and over the next few years production is expected to increase by another 40 per cent. With its sweet flavour and attractive, sunset-red stripes, it is perhaps easy to see why it is so popular. Gala, like the equally ubiquitous Braeburn, is an apple of New Zealand origin. They both became popular in the 1990s due to their availability in the UK’s off-season. Trial orchards of these antipodean apples were planted and the effect has been a revival of the English apple industry with figures from 2011 showing 39 per cent apples sold here were grown here. This is good news for apple growers, but many people mourn the lack of traditional British apples on our supermarket shelves.
Raymond Blanc, the two michelin starred chef, believes that it is our addiciton to sugar that has led to the popularity of these New Zealand varieties. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph in 2014, he suggested that consumers confuse sweetness with flavour. In his view, the best tasting apples, such as the Cox’s Orange Pippin, have a complex flavour that combine a mix of sweet, sour, acid and bitter. So, this is our guide to a few apples that sadly aren’t available in our supermarkets but which we at Orchard Origins think are delicious. Continue reading
Juicing is a great way of processing plenty of apples and enjoying them long after the eating season is over. At our purpose-built juicing facility in Herefordshire we are able to produce apple juice to retail standards, so whether you want juice for your own consumption or intend to sell it on you can rest assured that our juicing and bottling service is of the highest quality. Continue reading