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Cider is ‘tastiest for a decade’ after bumper apple harvest

PUBLISHED: 16:27 10 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:38 10 October 2018

Apple pressing at the Harleston Cider Company, based at Palgrave. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Apple pressing at the Harleston Cider Company, based at Palgrave. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A bumper autumn apple harvest has blessed East Anglian cider with its best taste for a decade, according to drinks producers.

Ken Woolley pressing apples at the Harleston Cider Company, based at Palgrave. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYKen Woolley pressing apples at the Harleston Cider Company, based at Palgrave. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cider makers are celebrating a near-perfect growing season, with no frosts to kill off apple blossoms before pollination, and the hot weather between June and August increasing flavours in the apples – and consequently in cider.

Harleston Cider Co sources and presses apples from within 10 to 15 miles of its base at Palgrave, near Diss, and ferments the extracted juice using the natural yeast and sugars in the fruit.

Master cider maker Ken Woolley said the summer heatwave had made this year’s apples juicier and sweeter than usual.

“I have been making cider for ten years, and this is certainly the best year for flavour,” he said. “You can tell just by tasting it.

“There is more complexity in the cider, and there are some floral notes and some tropical fruits in there. The yield [of apple juice] is nearly 70pc this year, and it is usually 60pc, so the apples are much juicier.

“And the hot summer has increased the natural sugars in the apples, which are 10pc up this year, so that also increases the flavour.”

Mr Woolley said while commercial apples in orchards would have been irrigated to keep them growing throughout the extended dry spell, wild apples and fruit from people’s gardens are noticeably smaller this year.

He said the cidery used 10-15 different varieties of apples, including some donated by customers.

“To have the diversity in the cider we like to have lots of different apples,” he said. “A number of people have donated apples this year, in exchange for cider, and we have also bought in apples from local, commercial orchards.

“The company has carried out four pressings to date using about eight tonnes of fruit.”

The family firm produces four still ciders, an ice cider, and a spicy “fire cider” vinegar.

It produced an award-winning perry in 2016 and this year the bumper harvest, including some wild perry pears from near the cidery, has prompted the production of a new product, Palgrave Perry.

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