We bolted the new scratter and apple press together today for a test run. I lost the first batch of apples to the pigs last week (there’s always competition for apples but I console myself with the thought that what goes to the pigs as food comes back to the garden as compost).
As things turned out it was all for the good, as we were able to pick a couple of buckets of Lord Derby . This, according to the notes, is a heavy-cropping Victorian variety, suitable for juicing and with a sharp taste. That all seems accurate – it definitely has a sharp taste. It didn’t yield as much juice as I would have hoped, though I’d have put it back through the press if we’d had more apples to work with. What it did yield was brown and had a lot of sediment in it.
A scratter, in this context, is a device for pulping apples. In the picture it is the hopper and handles that fit on top of the press. There’s a formidable assortment of toothed wheels in the bottom of the hopper, all set to dismember apples and is driven by the handle on the side. You can get electric ones, but they defeat some of the object of community involvement. Having said that, for large numbers, you can’t beat electric. They have no soul but they are quick!
It should not be confused with the current slang for a person of low social status! I ddin’t even know there were two definitions until I looked for a link. You live and learn!
We’ve definitely pressed better apples over the years – though we often don’t know what variety they are, even the ones growing on the farm. I think we must have had some of these before because the taste and sediment (and time of year) are the same as the first apples I ever pressed. Unfortunately I can’t recall where they came from; they definitely weren’t from the tree we cropped today as it wasn’t planted at that time.
That’s the problem with old varieties – they fell out of favour for a reason. That reason can be that retailers wanted better keeping qualities and didn’t value flavour, but it can also be that they just weren’t very good.
We’ll have to see with Lord Derby – it isn’t really fair to condemn a cooking apple without cooking it, but on the other hand we come from the county that gave us the Bramley so the chances of me telling you that a superior coking apples exists are practically nil.
It doesn’t really matter in the end anyway because the fun is in the pressing and drinking something that you’ve made, not in producing a clone of the juice you can buy from a shop.
For any of you who are local, we will be holding community apple pressing days on Saturday 12th and 26th September and 10th and 24th October from 10.00 – 3.00, though we can be flexible on that. There will be a charge, but I’m still working it out.