A lunar calendar to improve my gardening skills

Does the lunar calendar work for planting fruit, vegetables, flowers, for sowing seeds, or for simply gardening? What is the Calendrier Lunaire? Read on.

Exporting a UK-bought LHD car to France

Is it possible or indeed practical to buy a LHD car in the UK, originally registered in Poland, and then import it to France? Are there guidelines to be followed?

Driving in France

In recent years, travelling across to the continent and driving in France has become increasingly easy for Brits, but there are laws and regulations to bear in mind while driving abroad.

Mushroom picking in France

In France, mushroom picking, or “la cueillette des champignons”, is practically a national sport during the Autumn season. However, there are guidelines to follow before wandering through the woods.

Pineau … or Pinot? Do you know the difference?

Pineau is a delicious alcoholic drink which comes from the Charentes region of France. It is a fortified wine made from 3 parts grape juice and 1 part Cognac and, like many great delicacies, was discovered by mistake.

Find out all about Pineau des Charentes

Apple Press

Pressing apples

I almost prefer cider to wine.

When we lived in England we never drank cider – the occasional glass of wine but never cider. The French, however, drink a lot of cider. It is drank as an aperitif, sometimes mixed with cassis to produce a cider kir (called Kir breton). It is often drunk at lunchtimes as it usually has a lower alcohol content than wine, and of course, it is always drunk with galettes!

I wonder…. Every autumn we press about a tonne of apples, could some of this juice be turned into cider?

Cider apples must be ripe with plenty of pectin

I do some research… The apples, not all apples will do, you must choose cider apples and try them out. They must be rich in pectin. Need to find out how to test an apple for pectin!

The apples must be ripe. They aren’t necessarily ripe when they’ve fallen off the tree, they can ripen on the floor. To test for ripeness either use the starch test, or check for a strong apple aroma, or the apples should give when squeezed.

Pick and press within a week, throw out any rotten apples. So far so good.

Apple Pressing

Only press when the temperature is between 8 and 12ºC, or possibly a little colder. If any warmer, the yeast starts to ferment too quickly before the enzymes can do their business.

Maceration of the pulp for 12-24 hours before pressing will help to increase pectin levels.

Now things get complicated.. to do with pectinesterase enzyme and Calcium Chloride. It appears timings are crucial and there is more skill involved in making cider than I realized. A skill that only comes with experience.

We press our apples at a farm just north of Guer. I wonder whether the farmer would help us transform some of our juice into cider this year.

Please help us!

If you found this useful, please let your friends know by sharing it here...