We planted our orchard at Weobley Ash in 2007/8 and have 150 trees. They are a mix of cider apple, dessert apple, a few cooking apple, 25 perry pear trees and some plum trees. Also 3 crab apple trees to aid pollination. These trees are beginning to bear fruit, though 2012 was a very poor year for apples in our area. Blossom was frost damaged in the spring and the minimal sunshine over the summer meant that fruit were not as large or sweet as they may have been. Hopefully 2013 will be better!
At this time of year we are pruning the trees. Trying to keep an open structure to the tree will help to reduce disease risk and also optimise the ripening of fruit.
In 2012 we invested in a small pasturiser which enabled us for the first time to store apple juice without freezing it. Without pasturisaion the yeasts in the juice quickly start the fermentation process. Great for cider, but we wanted non-alcoholic apple juice!
So having made the decision to pasturise the next decision was whether or not to add ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C. Our initial ‘purist’ ideals proved misplaced as the addition of vitamin C both enhanced the flavour not just in the longer term, but even from the start. And off course the anti-oxidant properties of vitamin C is not only good for preserving the apple juice but it’s also good for us too.
We now have a medium, medium sweet and medium sharp blends of apples from our orchard and a couple of other local orchards where we have access. Bottles are £2.20 or 6 for £12.00
An alternative to heat pasturisation that we were very interested in is SurePure photopurification. By creating turbulence in a specially designed pipe, UV treatment in even opaque liquids can be guaranteed. We were sadly put off by the £20,000 price tag, but still look forward to finding dairies that will invest in the technology. Heat pasturisation destroys the antibodies in milk, so SurePure promises a healthier milk!