Making Mahorall Cider
Made from 100% pure apple juice and fermented by wild natural yeast - just as cider should be . Today people are rightly more aware of how their food and drink is made and we believe the closer to a natural product the better. We don't even add any yeast to the fermentation process and all our ciders work from natural yeast. This yeast is either in the atmosphere or on the apples we use. By making our cider using different apple varieties and not using any added chemicals, flavourings or sulphites enables us to have a range of naturally tasting quality cider.
By only using local apples and making our cider using natural methods is what makes Mahorall Farm Cider a true taste of Shropshire.
How do we make the cider?
The majority of the apples we use are from other local orchards. The smaller orchards we pick the apples ourselves into bags by hand. These net bags allow the apples to breathe and are easily handled.
For the larger orchards we use an apple harvester which is a far more efficient way of collecting apples. The apples are gathered off the ground using a large paddle and the sticks and leaves are discarded back on to the ground.
The apples then collect into plastic baskets at the rear of the machine. Once the baskets are full they are then tipped into a trailer. Any rotten apples are then removed and the trailer is then taken back to the farm. Six tonnes of apples can be picked on a good day with one of these machines.
Once the apples are back at the farm they are then tipped into a collection area which we call a bunker. The apples can remain here until they are ready to be processed. Ideally the apples need to be quite ripe.
1 - When the apples are ready we then collect them out of the bunker and pour them into our apple race.
The apple race is the first stage of the cider process and is where the apples are sorted. Any sticks, stones, leaves and rotten apples are removed by hand at this stage. All the waste material is then composted.
2 - The apples are then washed to remove the excessive dirt which may be present.
3 - After the apples are washed they are then placed into a drainer to allow any surplass water to drain off.
4 - The next stage is the milling. The apples are poured into a machine which chops and slices the apples into a fine consistency - similar to an apple sauce. This part of the process is very important. The better the 'pulp' the higher the potential juice rate will be. At this stage the pulp will slowly go brown - a process called oxidisation.
5 - We then scoop the pulp from the container and start to load the press. We lay a square peice of material called a 'hair' over a former on the press bed. This hair is modern woven material similar to hessian. The apple pulp is placed into the hair and the former serves to contain the pulp into a regular shape. The shape of each layer is important to help the overall structure of the layers when pressed.
After the pulp has been placed the edges of the hair are folded over to create a neat parcel.
The next stage is to remove the former and place a rack on the top of the parcel. The rack is made of slats made from acaica wood.The former is then placed onto the rack and the process of building another parcel begins. This process continues and several layers of these apple parcels are made and the finished job is called a 'cheese'. Once a cheese is completed and has been checked we are then ready for pressing.
6 - The pressing is a very slow process as the hydraulic press starts its work. Juice begins to pour out from the layers and is collected by a tray and then discharges into a small tank. The pulp is retained by each 'hair'.
The press has a gauge to monitor the pressure and will automatically reach about 10 tons and then maintain this pressure. We monitor the pressing and when the juice stops we then open a valve to release it.
As the bed of the press goes down we remove each layer and empty the spent pulp into a trailer. After all the layers have been emptied we are ready to start building the next cheese.
When the juice collecting tank is full we then pump the juice directly into a barrel or tank. Each tank has to be brim full to eliminate any air gap at the top. This reduces the chance of spoilage.
Within a few days the natural yeast will start to work and the fermentation process begins. This will be evident as the juice will begin to bubble. The fermentation process involves the yeast, which feed off the natural sugars in the juice to produce alcohol. We expect the process to take between 4 - 5 months to the point that all the sugars have been 'processed'. Once the process has been completed we will then seal the barrel. The next stage is to 'rack' each cider around springtime. The process of racking is to remove approximately 95% of the cider into another container. This is in order to take the cider off the 'lees'. This appears to be a fine dust at the bottom of the container and is made up from the spent yeast. An old name for the lees is 'the snarlydogs'. The cider in the new barrel will be then allowed to mature over the next few months. A secondary malo lactic fermentation may occur but not always. The maturation period mellows the cider and the taste is not as sharp as a newly fermented cider. This may be the origin of 'scrumpy' or 'rough cider' and the practice of drinking it as soon as the cider is ready to drink.
Once the cider is ready we offer it in two forms
1- Draught cider
Cider drawn straight from the barrel and then offered for sale. After purchase we recommend it is consumed within 10 days. We offer dry and medium still ciders in this range which has an average abv of 6.5%. Once opened any left over must be sealed or even better decanted into a smaller container. This to reduce the airgap.
The draught cider is available at the farm shop or at some of the shows we attend.
2 - Bottled Crown cap cider
This cider is sold in a glass 50cl bottle with a crown cap. This has a much longer shelf life once purchased. Once opened it should be consumed. Our original dry and medium ciders are slightly sparkling. Our new ciders which include a damson flavoured cider, elderflower flavoured cider and a strong dry cider are now available from the shop and at the shows we attend. For more information about our new ciders please click here.
At the moment our dry and medium are the only ones we are able to offer by mail order.