55 acres of cider apple orchards
There are 55 acres of cider apple orchards, about half of which are standard trees and half are bush trees. A standard tree is produced from a root stock and builds a good ‘stem’ or trunk which has no branches for 6 feet. It does not produce a good crop of apples for about 15 years, and its best yield is between the ages of 30-60 years. Its economic lifespan is 80 years. Planting is approximately 50 per acre.
A bush tree branches closer to the ground, with a short trunk. It crops at 5 years and its best yields are between the ages of 15-30 years. Its economic lifespan is about 45 years. Planting is approx 200 per acre.
Cider apples are not always pleasant to eat, due to the tannin in them. They may be divided into the following categories:
- Sharps – Frederick, Brown’s Apple
- Bittersharps – Kingston Black, Stoke Red, Porter’s Perfection
- Bittersweets – Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Tremlett’s Bitter, Harry Master’s Jersey, Chisel Jersey
- Sweets – Sweet Alford, Sweet Coppin, Taylor’s Sweet
Cider apples are allowed to fall so that they are very ripe. They are picked up by machine into a trailer, and then taken into the yard, and tipped into the apple hopper. After washing, the apples are crushed in the mill and the resulting pulp is pressed to produce apple juice. Fermentation takes place naturally in oak vats. Whilst on your walk you can view the apple hopper, bays and press where you will find explanatory diagrams.
Remember that this is a harvest, and that only visitors during October and November will be able to see apple gathering and pressing. The museum dvd is an excellent way to learn about the whole cidermaker’s year. (Tokens are available from the shop)