Making cyder has always been straightforward – making a good cyder has always been an artisanal calling.
To make cyder, all you need to do is to squeeze the juice from the apple; the many 100’s of yeasts present on the skin will do the rest. All cyder up to the 20th century spontaneously fermented in this way, and this was no different at Aspall; in Autumn, apples were harvested and brought by hand to the Cyder House where they were stored ready for pressing for at least 2 weeks to allow the tannins in the skin to seep in to the flesh. The apples were pre-blended by the cyder maker before pressing, and brought to the cyder house where they were ground to a pulp in a circular trough by a horse drawn stone wheel. The resulting mash was transferred to the press itself where layers of ‘cheeses’ wrapped in muslin cloth between wooden slats were piled on top of one another. The press was then wound down by hand and the resulting free run juice was caught in a barrel beneath the press before being transferred to oak barrels for fermentation.
By the time the blossom appeared on the trees, the cyder was ready and would be racked in to clean barrels.