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Vowchurch & Turnastone Community Fruit Juicing Project

Introduction:

Welcome to Vowchurch Community Fruit Juicing.

The hall owns a set of apple juicing equipment. It is of commercial quality and takes about a dozen people to operate so not suitable to hire out for home use. The idea is you bring your apples to the hall where we organise you into gangs and you all juice and process everyone’s apples or pears that day.

The equipment is free to use at the Village Hall for any inhabitant of Vowchurch and Turnastone on a first come first served basis, plus adjacent parishes if there is capacity. We hope you will donate some of your juice to the project to sell so we can replenish things like bottles and expendibles.

​A pressing day is very social and fun but its not suitable for children as the equipment is powerful and potentially dangerous. It normally takes a whole morning and we can produce maybe 200 bottles of pasteurised juice if we get a production line going. It’s not a family-fun type apple day of glorious chaos where kids can operate wooden presses and chop up apples.

​Several ways to join in:

  1. Bring your own apples and process them at a pressing day

  2. Help gather donated apples from local orchards

  3. Lend a hand at a pressing day

  4. Donate apples from your orchard

​To book or enquire, get in touch with me, Graeme Deas: graemedeas@hotmail.com   01981 550601 / 07726500391

If you just want a juicing service try Herefordshire Wildlife Trust’s Orchard Origins project www.herefordshirewt.org/orchard-origins. 

The Details:

Your apples:

All dessert apples are good though very sweet apples can give disappointing juice. Later ripening dessert apples with a tangy edge produce outstanding juice. Cooking apples may be poor to eat but often juice well with Bramley being very notable. Cider apples are not suitable as the sweet ones are very bland while the tannins in bitter and bitter-sharp varieties make them only good for brewing – see below. 

Ripeness and timing:

The apples must be ripe:

  • dark brown pips 

  • will come away from the tree very easily

  • have firm juicy flesh and good flavour with an apple fragrance

Unripe apples: 

  • have pale pips and require a sharp tug to pick them 

  • rather tasteless, tart and starchy

Overripe apples: 

  • dry and mushy 

  • may have brown flesh 

Early ripening fruit such as Discovery must be juiced immediately, in September. Most apples are ready in October and such fruit will become juicier if kept for a week or two once picked. Later fruit ripens at the end of October and November and these have the most complex flavours. They often also have good keeping quality so don’t have to be juiced immediately. All apples will get sweeter through the season. Taste your apples before picking them!

How to pick:

Apples for juicing are normally knocked off the tree and gathered off the ground into sacks. Bruising is not an issue with juicing. First clear the area beneath the canopy of all existing windfalls, sheep/animal droppings and strim long vegetation.  Either climb into the tree and vigorously shake the crown with your body weight or get a long pole and jiggle individual boughs up and down. Ripe apples will fall to the ground where you can just scoop them into sacks. We have many empty 20kg feed bags to borrow if you have none of your own. Store your apples somewhere cool and dry away from vermin until you come to juice. 

Orchard Collection:
Small groups will visit identified trees in the parish to collect apples for community juice and bring them back to the hall for juicing. 

Cider Making:
If you are juicing cider apples please make sure everyone in the gang is aware so it doesn’t mix with the fresh juice.  We have a number of brewing vessels and ancillary cider equipment to loan out and experienced cider makers to offer guidance so get in touch if you want to try this.

Juicing Day:

Message me once your fruit looks about ready to pick and we can see who else is available to set up a Press Gang. Contact details below.

All the apples people bring on that day will be mixed up and pressed together. It is possible to juice your apples separately but you must alert the other people in the group and there may be logistical issues. The press takes 40kg at a time and cannot be run half full. Depending on juice content of the apples, each pressing might yield 20-30 bottles and takes 10-15 minutes for a full cycle. 
 

From apple to finished juice there are 5 processes: washing, scratting, pressing, bottling, pasteurising

On the day there will be individual guidance sheets on each of these; please read them. Each process takes several people. Ideally everyone ends the day knowing all of the jobs so they can help newcomers next time.

1. Washing: Working with 4 to 6 around the water trough, you are cleaning and removing the odd bad apple to provide nice clean apples for juicing. The apples are used whole and do not have to be destalked, dried, peeled, cored or chopped. 

2. Scratting: The scratter is like a giant food processor and reduces the apples to pulp in moments. The scratter is switched on then clean apples are poured in the top and the pulp collected at the bottom. Ascorbic acid can be mixed in to prevent discolouration if required. It will take about 3 people to operate and can shred 40kg of fruit in a couple of minutes. 

3. Pressing: The press is operated by water. The perforated steel vessel is filled with 40L of shredded apples. One person controls the water pressure while another monitors juice flow and receptacle. When juice stops flowing the dry pulp is removed and reset for another run. A complete cycle takes about 10 minutes.

4. Bottling: The juice batches are combined in a large vessel or kept separate if required (note: you must chaperone your own juice). Automatic filler funnels and jugs are used to fill the bottles. This task takes 4 or 5 people to keep up with the press. 

5. Pasteurising: The bottles receive a lid placed loosely and then are put into a water bath pasteuriser, which holds 13 bottles. The temperature is brought to 70C then the timer set to 20 minutes. We should have 5 of these giving a throughput of about 120 bottles per hour. Pasteurised juice should last 3 years but the flavour starts to degrade in about a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottles:
The hall owns 65 dozen glass bottles you can borrow for your apple juice. They must be washed and dried and returned to the hall after use. They cost the project about £1 each and will need to be replaced as they get broken lost etc. Or bring your own bottles. They should be sealable if you want to pasteurise. It’s early days so we are just guessing what volumes of juice we’ll be dealing with. For example if demand is high and you want to produce more than, say, 6 dozen bottles you’ll almost certainly have to source your own bottles. But please let us know so we can decide how to proceed.

If you want to keep your juice absolutely untreated which is quickest and easiest, bring plastic milk containers and then freeze them at home. If you just leave them out at room temperature they will start to ferment in a few days though.

Crates: We have a number of green plastic crates which are for bottle handling in the hall. Please do not take home with you.   

Other tasks:
As well as set up, wash up and put away, many people will be required to ferry bottles to and from the cellar. Others are needed to operate the bottle washer to prepare for reuse of returned bottles. And of course making cups of tea! 

Get in touch:
To book a place or if you just have a question or just need clarification please get in touch. 

Graeme Deas:

graemedeas@hotmail.com

01981 550601 / 07726500391

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