Cider apples can be ready from as early as August so pressing time usually starts in September and can last through to late November.
Apples are loaded onto the sorting table where any foreign bodies - mud and leaves, or very rotten apples are removed.
Bruised apples and a little browning is fine as this is generally as a result of natural fermentation already occurring. We're careful to keep apple varieties separate so we can monitor which orchards and combinations give the best flavour and character. We don't use any commercial yeast in our cyder so we rely on the apples producing their own natural yeast - nothing added, nothing taken away, then we let nature takes its course!
Apple Sorting and Washing
Once cleaned and sorted on the loading table the apples are transferred to the feed box for the mill. The mill will pulverise the apples and pass them through a calibrated screen, like a grater, so they may be pressed most efficiently. Different size screens are used for different varieties of apple depending on juice content. The mill feeds directly into the press which can process up to 700kgs of pulp in an hour.
Pulverised apple delivered from the Voran mill
The pumace passes along the belt and its 5 rollers where a maximum of 75% of liquid is extracted. The remaining tightly packed pumace goes directly to a neighbouring farm up for cattle feed - nothing wasted!
New for 2018 – Voran Belt Press
The juice flows from the press into a filter box where any solids are strained out. It then flows into a storage fermentation tank where the magic occurs! The fermentation takes place in either 1520 litre food-safe low density polyethylene tanks or 3,500 litre stainless steel tanks. The juice will start to ferment between 12 hours and a few days. The fermentation will go on for between 7 days and a few months (depending on ambient temperature). We monitor progress every couple of days with a hydrometer and once all the sugar is used up the fermentation process will stop.
When the fermentation has ceased we rack all the cider off the yeast to start its maturing journey. Special vintages are racked off and matured in wooden barrels (Whisky Barrels - ex-Bourbon, Port or Sherry). Once matured the finished products are either bottled in 500ml beer bottles with crown caps or 75cl champagne style bottles corked and wired. For larger volumes we produce key kegs, polypins, pouches, Jerry cans and a variety of bag-in-box sizes.