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Makin’ cider

Cider making

Ugh, autumn is truly here isn’t it? I swear it got dark at 3pm yesterday, so miserable. In my mind the only good things about the gloomy seasons are of the edible and quaffable varieties: a few months of soups, stews and mulled things make it all bearable. So I was happy to get an email from Garden Trading asking if I’d like to try out an apple press from their range of harvest season products. If you haven’t heard of Garden Trading yet, they make timeless and practical homewares that look equally at home in a country cottage or a more modern setting: I’ve got their enamelled metal lightshades in both my bedroom and kitchen.

Cider making

Here’s the sweet little apple press they sent me. Crafted from solid wood and pretty sage green painted cast iron, it feels solid and well made. It’s nice and petite so fits onto the kitchen worktop easily.

Cider making

It comes ready to roll, complete with a mesh pulping bag, pressing blocks and simple instructions.

Cider making
Cider making

To give it a whirl, I bought a lovely range of apples from my local greengrocer: a mix of eating apples like Granny Smith and Gala for sweetness mixed with cooking varieties like Bramley for sharpness. Don’t they look pretty? The 9kg I bought yielded about 6 litres of juice.

Cider making
Cider making

The process is pretty simple, though you need a bit of elbow grease and be prepared to get pulpy and sticky! First wash and roughly chop the apples: I did this by hand but for a larger batch you’d probably want to use something more mechanised. Then you need to roughen/pulp them up a bit: we used a stick blender but a bowl food processor would have been quicker and cleaner. Give them a good whiz so they’re broken down but not entirely mush.

Cider making

Load the mesh bag into the barrel and fill with the pulpy apple goop. (This photo shows our first try where we hadn’t whizzed them up enough and they would not press: the right consistency looks more pulpy than this.)

Cider making

Pop the pressing blocks on top and start turning. Ta-da, out pours lovely apple juice! Of course you can just drink it right away, but I really fancied trying to make cider from it, with a little help from the live-in brewer boyfriend. It just requires a couple of extra supplies and ingredients – cider yeast, Campden tablets and PET bottles, all which I got from Brew UK – as well as the fermentation bottle and airlock which Josh already had from beer brewing.

Cider making

The Campden tablet stops any wild yeasts or bacteria from mucking up the fermentation, as well as lightening the colour. After 24-48 hours the cider yeast is added, then it needs to be tucked away away under the stairs for a couple of months, so it should be ready just in time for Christmas. Can’t wait to try it!

Cider making

We also had a bit leftover to drink straight away, to which I added some of this Morris Kitchen ginger syrup I got in Brooklyn. Delicious. The juice can be frozen too, which would be handy if you’re lucky enough to have a glut of apples to use up. All in all, top autumnal fun.

Apple press supplied for review by Garden Trading – thank you!

About the house 5

A few updates from the house, garden, and furry ones…

About the house
About the house
About the house

We solved our kitchen storage dilemma with this lovely Lean Man console from And Then Design. I just love it – it’s perfect for the space, beautifully made, and I can finally fulfil my dream of having grains, pulses and sugar stored in twee vintage jars.

About the house

Of course, it stayed this pristinely tidy for approximately three days and is now covered with mail, pottery and other life miscellany. Minimalist I will never be.

About the house
About the house

My brilliant mum made us some new curtains for the living room from this fabric. They’re thermally lined so will be cosy come the winter. They match the Roddy & Ginger print perfectly!

About the house

Here’s the Clive Pearson pot I picked up in Clovelly – it matches my (similarly named but I think unrelated) Colin Pearson goblet very well.

Garden
Garden
Garden

The garden’s ticking along nicely, with the veg taking it in turns to give us tiny harvests – broccoli, broad beans, tomatoes and chillies.

Yoni
Yoni

Yoni is taking his first steps outside since his accident. Obviously I’m a wreck whenever he goes out of sight, but his leg has healed up marvellously and seeing how happy he is outdoors makes it feel OK about it.

Lila
Lila

Lila’s so happy whenever we’re outside with her!

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Blooming garden

Garden
Garden

What a gorgeous weekend! We took the chance to get out and finish off our little outside space. I’m really pleased with how it’s looking now. It’s like having an extra room when the sun shines, and the west-facing aspect means it’s especially nice in the evenings for a post-work drinky.

gardenbefore

Here’s some before shots. We did most of the heavy lifting work last year, when we replaced the paving slabs, levelling the uneven ground in the process, removed tons of weeds and and rebuilt the beds with railway sleeper edging. We also painted the walls in Farrow & Ball’s ‘Mizzle’ and replaced the broken door.

Garden
Garden
Garden

This spring we’ve just been doing the finishing touches and fun stuff. We put up cheap bamboo screening across the ugly fences as a semi-temporary measure, but I quite like the effect it gives of a more enclosed room-like space. We’ve planted up the beds with a variety of things: hebes, Mexican orange blossom, ferns, alliums, cabbage trees and a baby magnolia.

Garden

The sunnier corner has lots of freestanding planters for the veggies, which seem to be thriving. We’ve got broad beans, mange tout, tomatoes, squashes, broccoli and strawberries – Josh even has a hop vine.

Garden
Garden
Garden
Garden
Garden
Garden
Garden

I’m so proud of how well the veg are doing. We enjoyed the first mini harvest of sprouting broccoli and mange tout with our dinner the other night.

Garden

The boring side: storage box for tools etc, attractive waste bin, odd bits of wood to get rid of. This side doesn’t get much sun so we don’t use it much.

Garden pizza
Garden pizza

We cooked a delicious pizza out on the firepit a couple of weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to hosting a ‘garden-warming’ barbecue soon.

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Autumn garden

Autumn garden

Sooo. We didn’t quite get the garden finished in time to enjoy any of summer in it. But at least I got a few plants in so it looks a little less bare over the winter, and we can really go to town next spring.

Autumn gardenAutumn garden
Autumn garden
Colour from a Japanese maple and pink heather

Autumn garden
Autumn garden

I planted some winter onions, which are just beginning to peep out. Going to try some garlic, too.

Autumn garden

Managed to get a few tiny chillies off my plant grown from Wahaca seeds.

Autumn garden

Handy herbs by the back door.

Garden cats

…If nothing else, it’s definitely the cat party garden.