Today Steve and Jon took the Charnwood Borough Council funded apple press out on its first public outing of the 2012 harvest season. We attended the Sutton Bonnington show, at the invitation of the Greening Sutton Bonnington group. They’ve got a community orchard started in the village and lots of great energy efficiency information being provided to the local community. Their stand at the show had a real apple theme: in addition to our press they had a selection of home made cakes all containing local apples. We felt it would be rude not to sample these of course! The group are also planning on planting more trees in their community orchard – folk from Loughborough are welcome to come and take part in the planting event which will take place between 11am and 1pm on Saturday 1st December.
The Green Sutton Bonnington folk had gathered a couple of rubber garden trugs full of apples from local trees. We used our mains drill powered scratter in the back garden of one of their volunteers to turn these apples into the mash that the press works best with. The chickens in the garden were very interested as well – maybe they thought we were making them breakfast!
The scratted apple mash was then taken to the show ground along with the press. We had enough apples to do two pressing sessions: one at 11am and another at 2pm. This work out really well – the first one caught the early bird visitors whilst the one after lunch provided interest after the jousting with the Knights of Nottingham had finished! The press performed brilliantly and out of the two trugs of apples we pressed just over 25 litres (about 5 gallons) of fresh apple juice. The juice from the morning session had all gone by 1pm, and most of the bottles from the afternoon session had already been drunk by the time we packed the press up to leave just after 4pm.
As this was our first public pressing event we were still feeling our way round the press and scratter to find out what works well and what might need rethinking. We did try some pressing some apples that were brought along at midday without scratting them and the juice output was much reduced from those, demonstrating that the scratting is vital. One visitor to the show that we talked to said that he mashed his apples with a hand cranked scratter which he’d recently bought, so we might want to consider one of those to cover events where mains power isn’t available (the press itself does not require electricity but our current scratter uses a mains powered drill to turn the studded cylinder inside it).
We might be able to arrange an additional apple event with the Greening Sutton Bonnington group – both apple pressing for local folks with apples but also some demonstrations of pasteurising, dehydrating, chutney making, and similar to show how apples can be used and preserved. The Greening Sutton Bonnington group are working along very similar lines to Transition Loughborough so it makes sense to share experiences and resources.
A great day out and a great start to our apple pressing season!