Bring in the harvest
We are about to embark on the busiest time of the year, harvest has arrived and pressing is upon us.
Because we make our ciders from 100% fresh pressed cider apples we only get one chance a year to make our proper cider so we have to make sure we pick and press enough apples to satisfy the ever growing demand.
Our cider apples are locally sourced from small and independent growers in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and pressed in the Malvern Hills. We make traditional, tannic cider so we pick mainly bittersweet apple varieties, these apples have high tannin and low acidity, we do add a few bittersharps in to the mix to liven things up. We are pressing Gilly (a bittersharp) and Hastings (a bittersweet) at the moment, both of which are early croppers; we are just coming in to Dabinett and Michelin season.
Gilly juice is sweet and acidic with a distinctive tannic punch.
A classic and reliable English cider apple - Dabinett dates back to the early 1900's, and produces a bittersweet juice.
Cider apple varieties tend to be grown and used fairly locally to their origin but since its import into England in the 19th Century Michelin, a traditional French cider apple, has become a popular bittersweet.
You might have heard that the apple crop is abundant and plentiful this year but the specific gravity is quite low meaning there is less sugar in the fruit resulting in a lower alcohol base cider. This is a bit of a puzzle because normally low gravity is a sign of a bad summer but this summer was fine. Shaun, our cider maker, was speculating why this could be and thinks it might be because we have been enjoying milder winters. Trees send sugars into their fruits so they have enough food to help the seeds germinate. To conserve energy if the weather is mild perhaps they are not sending in and storing as much sugar in the fruit. Psychic, energy saving trees (scuppering our cider making plans).....not sure about that but nature is amazing so it could be true! (If you know the real reason please email and tell us).
At Hogan's we all love picking fruit, days spent in the fresh, crisp, autumn air surrounded by ancient trees and rolling hills. Because we often take from old, standard orchards the views are incredible and you get a real sense of the tradition of cider and perry making.