That is a lot of apples

An amazing weekend of scrumping.

Of course, these photos are all from Saturday, which was glorious sunshine.  Sunday was a completely different matter – rain so hard we could barely see the trees.  No photos of that fun – we just wanted to get back in the car as quickly as possible.

In any case, we bagged an enormous pile of apples that are neatly stored in three (yes, three) tumps.  No method in that madness other than we filled the first one, built a second, which got filled (while we were out scrumping) and then built a third one (which is a proper bodge job).

I have literally no idea how we are going to press all of these apples.  I just hope that the volunteers turn up.  Otherwise I’ll be taking a week off work.

If you haven’t received the official invite, but you want to get involved, then drop me or Jane an email on philip.colligan_at_gmail.com or jane _at_ebi.ac.uk.

More to follow on the blog soon.

Phil

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Garden sacks

We need some garden sacks to put the pressed apple pulp into.  If anyone gets chance, can you pop into one of the council’s offices and pick up a handful of the brown paper sacks.  I think they’re free to council taxpayers.  😉

The pulp makes a nutritious addition to any compost heap.

Phil

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Scrumping time

Cambridge Apple Day is only a week away!  Scrumping time!

Today was a perfect day for scrumping, with crisp, clear autumn skies and not a drop of rain.  A double top for Phil McBrien (pictured below).  First he spots four heavily laden trees and secures legitimate scrumping privileges in return for the promise of a barrel of cider for the owners.  Then he turns up with two huge fruit pickers to make light work of the job.

In an hour and a half we filled the boots of two cars.  We’ve filled one tump already and I’ve had to build a new one.  Loads of apples left in this secret and exclusive location.

Unless someone pulls something special out of the bag, it looks like Phil McBrien will be taking home the coveted (and newly invented) scrumper of the year award.  You’d best get your skates on though, rumour has it that Phil has already lined up another monster scrump for tomorrow.

This is the week to get out there and harvest those apples.  The key to making delicious cider (at least the way we do it) is variety, so the more people get involved the better. Cookers, crabs, cider apples or tasty eaters – it’s all good as long as you chuck out the mouldy and badly bruised.

Every bag makes a difference, so knock on doors, climb fences, jump over walls.  If you get caught, just tell them it’s the Big Society.

See you on Saturday 2 October scrumpers.

Phil

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10 days to go! What to start collecting…

So Phil has built this year’s apple tump (photos to follow) and the apples are trickling in. Now is the time to start collecting apples!

Other things to start collecting before apple day:

– Plastic bottles for apple juice e.g. old milk containers. Give them a good clean in hot soapy water and let them fully dry. That way, the juice will probably last about 4 days in the fridge (it’s unpasturized so will start fermenting after then due to the natural yeasts). It can also be frozen.

– Demijohns or other containers for fermenting juice, if you fancy having a go at making your own this year. You’ll also need some sterilizing solution, airlocks with bungs and some resealable glass bottles (e.g. Grolsh bottles). Cutlacks on Mill Road is a good place to get brewing stuff. I’ll make a sheet of instructions about what to do – it’s very easy, honest.

– More apples!

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Safety First

I’ve started to review the kit for Apple Day.  It’s all looking good so far, but I have a lingering concern about the scratting arrangements.

If you were there last year, you’ll remember that we adapted an old garden chipper with a long safety tube to keep fingers away from those whizzing blades (see picture below).  All good, but the problem was the need to poke the apples with a stick or garden cane when they got stuck.  Effective in getting the scratting going again, but a bit dangerous and at least one volunteer got hit with a flying splinter (thankfully only in the hand – but still, ouch!)

The easy way of solving this problem would be to buy a purpose built machine for scratting apples.  They’re pretty expensive though – the cheapest is the Fruit Shark at £420.  I got the sense that Dr Janey wasn’t terribly keen on this…

So I’ve been tinkering in the garden and come up with a purpose built tamp.

It fits nice and snug into the feeder and doesn’t get torn up by the blades because its dead flat.  I haven’t tried it with the safety tube fitted (I need to make a new one of those first), but I think it’ll work.

Safety first!

Phil

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First apples have arrived!

Left mysteriously in a bag on the doorstep. Going to try storing them in cardboard boxes layered with newspaper this year, see if they last longer that way.

Jane

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The date is set: Saturday 2 October 2010

We’ve set the date and we’re online.  Far more organised than last year.

I thought it would be useful to get something online to help us get ready for the 2010 Cambridge Apple Day.  A wordpress blog seemed like the easiest option.  It’s free and it can reach even those Luddites who can’t bring themselves to get on facebook or other forms of “social media” (yes, that means you Matt).

So far, we haven’t done much more than set a date – Saturday 2 October.  Get it in your diaries now.  We’ll be hosting at our house again this year, unless any better offers emerge. Over the next few days I’ll give the kit the once-over and figure out what we need to get done in advance.  I hope that I can call on our trusty band of volunteers to help out.

I know that lots of people want to have a go at brewing their own Cyder this year.  Based on last year’s performance, there will be lots of juice to go round – something like 54 gallons.  I’ll post a list of kit that you’ll need so that people can start sourcing that.  Most of it you should be able to blag without too much trouble.

The really good news is that we’ve got a barrel of cider brewed from last year’s Apple Day ready to crack open.  I can’t wait.  The bottled stuff is amazing and if you still haven’t tried any, then pop round and get some.  No doubt that there’ll be a few bottles of the fizzy stuff opened for a tasting session on the day.  My advice is that you leave the car at home.

I am told that the secret to a good blog post is to keep it short.  Goodbye for now.

Phil

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