Help make Cambridge Apple Day bigger (and safer)

A fruit mill or scratter is an essential bit of kit for any Apple Day.  It’s the thing that turns your apples into a mash that you then put into your press to get the juice out.

Friends of Cambridge Apple Day (or regular visitors to this blog) will know that when we started four years ago, I adapted an old woodchipper to become our fruit mill.

Back Camera IMG_6481








To be fair, it’s done the job, not least thanks to the superhuman efforts of Ed S (handsome guy in the light coloured shirt above) who has taken charge of the feeding the apples in (and pushing them onto the spinning blades) for at least three years now.

The problem is that it is pretty slow – even with Ed’s heroic work – and if we’re honest it wouldn’t pass even a rudimentary health and safety audit.  Frankly, we’re worried for Ed.  It’s only a matter of time before he falls in and…

We want to make Cambridge Apple Day bigger, better and safer.  So this year we want to get a brand new purpose built Vigo fruit mill.

Beautiful isn’t it?  Designed specifically for apples.  Safe.  Quick.  Yellow.  What’s not to like? We’ve tried one out at the Shropshire Apple Day and it is as good as it looks.  With one of these we can produce more delicious juice and cider to give to all you lovely volunteers, street parties, school fetes and other great people.

We also want to loan our kit to other community groups, but we can’t even think about that until we’ve got a proper fruit mill that we know is safe.

We need help to raise the funds to buy this thing of beauty.  We need £795 and we have set ourselves 30 days to do it.  Those smart people at Just Giving have made it all easy with their new website Yimby.

All you need to do is log on here and you can make a donation through Just Giving’s super secure platform (you’ve probably used it to sponsor someone before).  Even a tiny donation would help us get to our target of £795.  If you’ve ever joined us for Apple Day or if you just like what we do (or you’re worried about Ed), please get involved.

Help us make Cambridge Apple Day bigger, better and safer.  Be awesome and we’ll give you some cider.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The return of Cambridge Apple Day 2014

After a hiatus last year, I’m delighted to confirm the return of the Cambridge Apple Day for 2014.  Just like Glastonbury, we’re returning better than ever.

We’ve set the date – Sunday 5 October. Usual venue.

Put the date in your diaries and start securing those scrumping privileges for your neighbours’ trees.  It looks like a bumper year for apples in Cambridge, but fruit is ripening pretty early after all of that sun.  It’s never too soon to start thinking about storage.

A small group volunteers got together on Saturday to bottle the fermented juice we had left over and, although we were generally very abstemious, we did sample a little of the cider and it was fantastic.


One of the challenges this year is what to do about our scratter.  Regulars will know that a few years ago I adapted a wood chipper and it’s served us very well so far.

Back CameraThe emerging consensus is that we need to move to the next level in safety and capacity, buying our very own “purpose-built” fruit mill so that we can continue to provide delicious juice and cider for our neighbours, friends and family.  More news to follow on that project.

We’ll also try to use the blog to document the cider making process a bit more thoroughly this year.  It’s been great to get lots of feedback and ideas from fellow cider-makers and people who’ve been inspired by what we do to give it a go for the first time.

Apologies again to the many people who’ve asked, but the Cambridge Apple Day is still an invite only affair. We might open it up to the public one day soon, but for now it’s only for neighbours, friends and family. Drop me (Phil) an email if you want an invite.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Some photos from 2012 Apple Day

Here’s a few photos from the 2012 Cambridge Apple Day.  It was another great day.  Stunning weather, loads of happy volunteers, delicious cider and a great hog roast.

Not as many apples as previous years, but enough to make it all worthwhile.

Thanks to everyone who got involved.

For more photos, check out our facebook page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apple Day tomorrow

Just look at that pile of apples!  It’s been a brilliant effort by all of our volunteers over the past few days and, in spite of the terrible apple harvest, we’ve got a great haul already and we know that there’s more coming tomorrow.   Looks like a full day pressing ahead.

We’ve been busy cleaning and setting up the kit today and it’s all  looking good.  We’ve just sampled the barrel of cider and it’s a corker.  Jane’s got the hog roast in and the apple sauce and stuffing is already made.  We’re good to go.

If you’re planning on coming, check out Jane’s blog post below for tips.  In brief: bring apples. bring clean containers for juice, bring food (and bring raincoats).

Do yourself a favour and leave the car at home though.  You don’t want to miss this cider!


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Two days to go!

So Flamsteed Road’s 4th Apple Day is almost upon us. The apple pile is starting to look more respectable. Looks like the weather is going to hold up too – forcast is 10C and sunny. Perfect apple day weather.

So the format will be much like past years: we’ll start at about 10am, aiming for the first pressing at around 11am. Lunch will be served at around 1pm. We’ll carry on until the apples run out, usually around 5pm. As usual, a few last-minute tips:

1. Apples – there’s no such thing as too many apples so don’t give up on any last-minute scrumping!

2. Containers for juice – make sure you bring along a couple of clean bottles to take home some juice, e.g. old milk containers. Give them a good clean in hot soapy water amd a rinse. The juice will last about 4 days in the fridge after which it will start fermenting. It can be frozen and enjoyed later.

3. If you want to make some cider, you can – it’s easier than you think. We’ve got some spare kit here we can lend you if you want to give it a go. Explosive events are rare. Honest.

4. If you can, bring some food – I will be making the traditional hog roast (a special thanks to Balzano’s Delicatessen for donating the bread rolls again), but if you can bring some kid-friendly snacks or cake along it would help a lot. Extra points awarded for dishes involving apples.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mysterious box of apples

Photo: A mysterious box of apples has appeared this evening... Could this be the work of Cambridge 28th Scouts?

This mysterious box of apples appeared this evening.  Could it be the work of the Cambridge 28th Scouts?  Whoever is responsible, we thank you.

Progress is unusually slow on filling the tump this year.  Such a bad harvest.  There’s loads of unloved apples out there, so let’s give it one final push before the big day.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apple Day is coming

Photo: We got some apples.  'twas a good weekend's scrumping.

The tump is starting to look more respectable now – not least thanks to a sterling scrumping effort (again) from Phil McBrien on Sunday and a brilliant haul from the Sutton clan.  This is a picture of the wonderful Bethan who is very pleased with the sudden arrival of a tonne of apples in the garden.

Sunday isn’t very far away, but there’s plenty of time for a last minute scrump.  We need some more varieties if we’re going to create cider as delicious as last year’s batch (which is being heralded as a classic).  Remember, we can take eaters, cider apples, cookers and crabs.  It’s all about the mix.

If you haven’t already, then let us know if you’re coming.  Jane will be making the legendary hog roast and we need to get an idea of how many to cater for.  Please bring a dish to share if you can.  We’ll have the usual competition for the best and most inventive apple related dish.

BBC Weather forecast is predicting rain on Saturday, but dry on Sunday.  Sorry to say that no sign of a re-run of last year’s heatwave though.  Whatever the weather, we’ll have lots of apple juice, cider and great company to enjoy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More apples please

A great day scrumping today. After a false start with one heavily laden tree that we were denied access to, our friends at the Newnham Model Railway came up trumps again. We managed to fill about five sacks from their beautiful trees and left a goodly quantity of cider behind for the guys to enjoy.

We’re also hoping that our friends at Cambridge 28th Scouts will be gathering some apples for us this week.  Obviously, the scouts will be paid in juice not cider!  This could be an exciting new partnership between Cambridge Apple Day and the scouts.  Other troops take note.

We’re still in need though.  It’s been such a tough year for apples that many of our best regular scrumps are completely bare.  With only a week to go, it’s looking a bit worrying and we need every lead that we can get.

We’re not short of volunteers up for a bit of scrumping, so please let us know of any trees with fruit that is likely to be going to waste.  We can turn them into apple juice and delicious cider.

More details of the Apple Day itself on the blog over the next few days. Don’t forget to let us know if you’re planning on coming along.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time to start scrumping

Only two weeks to go until Cambridge Apple Day and it’s time to start scrumping.  The tump opened this weekend and Dylan (as birthday boy) had the honour of putting the first apple in.

Here are some rules for scrumping:

1. Make sure you ask permission, but don’t be afraid to ask.  Most people don’t make good use of their apples and will thank you for saving them the chore of filling the green bin.  If you see a tree in someone’s garden, knock on the door and ask.  If you know of somewhere with a particularly big haul, then why not organise a scrumping party to join you?   

2. Variety is really important, but let’s stick to apples.  Our method of cider making relies on getting a great mix of different types of apple: eaters, cookers, crabs, so try to scrump a couple of trees at least.  We don’t use pears or other fruit, but feel free to bring some for snacking.

3. Leave them on the trees as long as you can, but collect the windfalls regularly.  Chuck out anything with mould and don’t pick from orchards with livestock.  Feel free to drop them round to Phil and Jane’s house if you can’t store them until the big day – the tump is ready and waiting.  If storing yourself, then keep them dry and well aired.  Storing apples for a couple of weeks isn’t too much hassle.  A hessian sack in a shed works well.

This year has been a tough one for all kinds of fruit and the apple crop is very weak.  It shouldn’t be a problem though.  Cambridge is full of apple trees and sadly far too few of them get used.  Get out there and get scrumping!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Apple Day 2012: Sunday 14 October









After much procrastination and deliberation, I am pleased to announce that the 2012 Cambridge Apple Day will take place on Sunday 14 October at the usual venue (Jane and Phil’s back garden).

It’s a radical departure from our usual date of the first Saturday of October and we apologise to anyone who’s already made plans thinking we’d do the same this year.  Jane and I are both overseas with work a lot this autumn and this is pretty much the only day that we can make work for us.

We’ll need to rely on our faithful band of volunteers even more than usual, particularly for the scrumping, as we won’t be around the week leading up to the big day.

On the plus side, there’s loads of cider left over from last year’s bumper harvest and none of it has exploded.  So everyone who comes and helps out will be rewarded with lots of delicious cider and apple juice.

So what can you do to help?  Start spotting those apples and get your scrumping privileges sorted now.  It’s been a mixed year for the apple harvest, so we’ll need to work extra hard to get the crop in.

Don’t bag any windfalls yet – unless you can store them at home.  We’ll open the tump in the back garden on Saturday 29th September, giving you a whole two weeks to fill it up before the day.

Let us know if you’re coming and whether you’ll be able to bring some apples (what kind and how many would be useful too).

Apologies to the many people who’ve asked, but the Cambridge Apple Day is still an invite only affair.  We might open it up to the public one day soon, but for now it’s only for neighbours, friends and family.  Drop me (Phil) an email if you want an invite.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment