Step 1 : Orchard Care
At Crest Cyder we believe that producing high quality cider starts with having the finest fruit. So the first step in our process is to take great care of our orchard. This means yearly pruning of the trees and mowing the grass throughout the year. We take great pride in our orchard and we hope you will agree it is a picture perfect orchard!
Step 2 : Tree Shaking
Harvesting takes place from late September to late November. Different apple varieties are ready at different times, with the earliest being Morgan’s Sweet and the latest being Dabinett. When the apples are ready for picking we shake the tree to encourage the ripe apples to fall to the floor ready for collection shortly afterwards. We still do our tree shaking by hand, we use long sticks to tap the branches, this traditional approach is hard work but it is simple and reduces apple bruising, which is great for our cider.
Step 3 : Harvesting
When we first started our cider making journey over 25 years ago we picked up our apples by hand! Things have progressed since then and we now use a motorised apple picker. We carefully inspect the apples before they are bagged to ensure there are not any that are rotten or badly bruised in the mix. We believe our approach to harvesting is kinder to our apples than some of the larger orchards that use more mechanised methods.
Step 4 : Fruit Processing
Next is the washing of the apples which is another opportunity to remove any rotten fruit. The apples are then re-bagged and put in place ready for cider making. One bag of apples is then put into the milling machine at a time. The milling machine grinds the fruit into small pieces, called pulp, so the juice can be extracted when pressing.
Step 5 : Pressing
Fourteen layers of pulp are built up in cloths with wooden racks between them, each layer is called a cheese. Our cider press, which is over 100 years old, has a large central screw that exterts a huge force that presses down on the rack which crushes the fruit pulp and then the juice starts flowing. Once all the juice has been squeezed out of the pulp it is pumped into containers ready for fermentation. We test our juice at this point and add any necessary treatments if the results indicate sub-optimal conditions for fermentation. The press is then unscrewed and the layers of dry pulp (called pomace) removed so the process can start again. Our dry pulp is given to a local farmer for their cattle so there is no waste in our process, needless to say they love it.
Step 6 : Fermentation
Our juice is left to ferment using only naturally occuring yeasts until no sugar is left and has all been turned into alcohol. This can take up to three months. Once fermentation is complete the cider is transferred into our french Oak barrels for maturing which takes another three to four months.
Step 7 : Blending
Each batch of cider is unique and therefore careful consideration is required to combine the various batches into the three cider varieties we produce. We use only 100% apple juice in our cider and we do not water it down. We add sweetness to the cider since the fermented juice would be too dry for a lot of our customers.
Step 8 : Packaging
It is now time to package the cider ready for selling wholesale to pubs and restaurants. We provide our cider varieties as wholesale in 500ml bottles, 5 litres plastic containers, 10 litres or 20 litres bag in the boxes.