Last year our apple tree was prolific, much to the joy of local blackbirds and squirrels. This year it is far less so and as of mid-October the apples have only just begun to drop. Those that have fallen are mostly half-gnawed - I suspect by the garden rodents - so I can only use those for apple wine with some judicious chopping.
Our crab apple tree has done better than last year - but has still only produced 1 lb 4 oz of apples. Each of these two wines require 4 lbs of apples, so I have had to look beyond the confines of our garden for additional fruit.
On Saturday 12th October, after accompanying Claire back from a Park Run (I did not participate myself) I spotted windfall apples on the opposite pavement so, much to Claire's embarrassment, I crossed the road and started collecting them. She left me to it. These apples were small and bruised, but still worthy ingredients. I also noticed that a house round the corner had put some apples in a box outside their hedge for people to collect, so I made full use of these too and ended up with 8 lbs of apples (weighed after chopping out the bruises and the rot and the squirrel tooth marks) that I needed.
I made the Apple Wine of Saturday and the Apple & Strawberry Wine on Sunday. For both I washed the apples, cut away all rot, removed any invertebrates that I spotted (only one had a grub but several had woodlice) and sliced them using the food processor.
For the apple wine, I added about 1 lb of sultanas, minced in the food processor, and for the apple & strawberry wine I had already crushed 1 lb of strawberries in my bucket using a potato masher. To each bucket I added 3 lbs of sugar and 7 pints of boiling water (which was about half a pint too much, particularly for the apple & strawberry).
Once each had cooled (Sunday morning for the apple and Sunday night for the other) I added teaspoons of nutrient, pectolase and yeast to both buckets.
By Friday these were ready to put into their demijohns. I had returned home from Drinks with Work so had little inclination but knew this must be done, and so that's what I did to no great disaster. This year there is little colour difference between the two and I suspect substandard strawberries account for the lack of pinkness.
If you want to see how the Apple wine turned out, click here.
If you want to see how the Apple & Strawberry wine turned out, click here.