Apple Brandy/Cider festival

These autumn days, I felt nostalgic about my father’s wine producing days. One of my father’s hobbies was that of producing his own wine -two barrels maximum-  and every autumn as children, we were helping in the collection of grapes, which that time as I remembered, it was quite hard thing to do but we were compensating later by the fun we had stomping the grapes with our feets  in the grape mill(Patitiri).

Back in England, I didn’t imagine that I could find a similar activity but this time with apples. The production of cider and apple brandy(Calvados in French) has similar process.  The West country in England (Somerset) is  famous for the cider production and specifically one farm -the Somerset Cider Brandy company,  is the first farm producing Calvados/ apple brandy in England.

As I was reading about this tradition of apple harvesting and producing cider … I found out that  the western British tradition of Wasailling (Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word ‘wassail‘ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. The apple trees and making an offering of cider and bread in Autumn to protect the fertility of the orchard appears to be a relatively ancient tradition, superficially dating back to the pre-Christian early medieval period).

The apple festival of the Somerset Cider Brandy Company was quite elaborated and  all of us had great fun by drinking hot cider and eating the ploughman’s sandwich(a kind of) accompanied by live music!

IMG_6661

Children and dogs had a lot of fun playing in the apple hills.

IMG_6643

Apple pressing using straws! This specific ingredient is important for the cider production.

IMG_6625

To extract the juice from the pulp, wooden screw presses were used from medieval times onwards.  The apple pulp had first to be built into a ‘cheese’ using alternate thin layers of pulp and straw.IMG_6646

IMG_6631

Apple Orchard in the farm.IMG_6616

Brandy Distillery. Last records for distilling Cider Brandy in England date back to 1678. The Somerset Cider Brandy Company revived the tradition in 1987 when we obtained the first commercial distilling license in English recorded history.IMG_6650

IMG_6648

The shop.

IMG_6669
IMG_6639

One of the nicest autumn activities in the English countryside! Apple Harvest!