Saturday, 21 April 2012

WAITATI OPEN ORCHARDS

by Hilary Rowley
 
The third and final Harvest Market of the year has been and gone (already). By all accounts it was another big success with plenty of
apples squashed and funds raised. Well done everyone who organised, picked, crushed, came along, ate and drank. If you still have
some apples left over but don't have a fancy beast of an apple juicing machine at your disposal, try freezing them. The freezer will
break down the apple flesh so it's easy to pulp. Only put sound apples in the freezer or cut out any rotten parts. After freezing the
apples overnight leave to thaw and put in a food processor to break into a pulp. You could probably also devise some method of 
bashing them to a pulp if you don't want to use a food processor. This step will be so much easier after the time in the freezer. 
 
We are aiming for 4 litres of juice so start with 3.5kg or so of apples. Strain the resulting pulped apples through a jelly bag.  Measure the specific gravity of the strained juice with a hydrometer, and water
down until it reaches the range between 1035 and 1050. Add 100 grams of raw sugar to your 4 litres of juice, then pour into a
demijohn or other suitable vessel. Add 5 grams of champagne yeast. Leave at room temperature for a couple of days with some cotton
wool at the neck of the demijohn as a seal.  When the frothing has reduced fit an airlock, with water in it, to the jar and leave to
ferment for two weeks in a warm place, or until the cider has stopped bubbling. Then syphon into bottles and seal. Leave for three months
in a dark  place. At all stages in this process everything must be very clean and sterilized.
 
Apples certainly grow well in Waitati, but there are other fruits at this time of year too. The strawberries and Myrtus Ugni planted
around the skateboard ramp should be ripe now, and Albany Surprise grapes are fruiting abundantly at our place now, after zero frost
protection last spring, so would probably grow in a lot of sheltered spots in Waitati over verandahs and against walls. WOO planted
some feijoas at Orokonui riverside park, but these seem to be much later than the North Island fruit which is turning up in the shops
now. A variety called Unique has so far proven to be the one for fruiting early in its life in this area. Don't forget to look out for
blackberries. They may be a horrible weed, but it's better to eat the berries than let them seed more prickly tangles.

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