Apple Pressing has been an integral part of our Fruit Routes harvest events from the very start working alongside Transition Loughborough and their home-made apple press and scratter. The Apple Press is available for loan for groups across the town.
“It was just an idea over a cup of coffee followed by a grant from Charnwood Borough Council realised through the expertise of a carpenter called Rupert. A simple idea. Reach out to community by having an event that takes local windfall apples and turns them into gallons of sparkling apple juice with food metres rather than miles, and a great time being had by all. Loughborough University Fruit Routes and the apple press complemented each other perfectly”Stephen King, Transition Loughborough
The process of apple pressing involves cleaning and washing the apples, chopping and scratting apples into fine chunks and mush, preparing layers of apple in cloth between wooden boards. A hand operated hydraulic jack then exerts pressure on the boards and juice flows out. The remaining pomace after the juice has been released is mixed with compost or can be fed to livestock. Apples, pears and crab apples mixed with other apples can be used to make juice.
As part of Fruit Routes some people bring apples from home to press. Other apples are harvested from mature trees on campus by university staff, students and the public – fruit which would otherwise go to waste. We’ve also used the apple press with children from the Loughborough University Campus Nursery and prepared juice for cider with University societies. We provide simple recipes for cider making. We have mostly made fresh apple juice, which has a limited shelf life and tastes best drunk as soon as possible! There is a pasteuriser, which means juice can be bottled and kept. Sometimes Fruit Routes apple juice is served at University events. Everyone gets involved. One young Fruit Routes visitor was even seen to be washing her hair in liquid sunlight!
Fruit Routes has hosted two specialist fruit wine and cider making workshops. In 2011 with Paul Paine from Ecoworks Nottingham and in 2015 Melanie Wilson, a heritage apple specialist from Leicestershire Heritage Apple association gave a talk about cider making and fruit wines as part of the Harvest event.