Here we are just a few weeks from harvest(although some of you with early cropping apples will be closer even than that) so it is a great time to get the equipment out of the shed for an inspection.
Start with your scratter. The device that turns apples into apple pulp is one of the most important parts of cider making. Many are made from wood and wood doesn’t have an infinite life span. So check whether the whole thing is sound and solid. Next look at the teeth. Are any of them loose? Are any rusted? Most important of all, when you cleaned it at the end of last season did you miss any bits? Tiny pieces of apple that have been sitting on your scratter all year will harbour germs. Perhaps now is a good time to give the whole thing a thorough scrubbing. Once that is done put it together and insure the ends of the spindle are lubricated. Make sure the boxing has not become warped. Finally, make sure that iwhen you put it away after it’s good cleaning, it is thoroughly dry. If your scratter is going back in the shed, put it in a polythene bag so that you don’t need to do more than a simple wipe down in a few weeks time when you use it.
As for the Apple press it self, the most important part is the screw. Give it a good few turns and make sure the thread is running freely. Other than that it is a matter of cleaning much as you did the scratter. Take the time to get into every corner. I have been known to work on my press with an old toothbrush. On a nice sunny weekend spending a few hours cleaning your press is therapeutic work. Enjoy making sure your kit is clean and ready for use and think of the amazing cider you are going to produce.
Next, make sure that all of the smaller pieces of equipment you use are still to be found. Four example, my long handled spoon has disappeared. Had I discovered this when I actually needed the spoon it might have been a minor disaster. But because I took the time to check now, I still have a week or 2 to go shopping. While on the subject of shopping, have you bought yeast?
Unless you are one of those brave cider makers who lets the neutral Yeast take its course, you will want to purchase some good quality cider yeast.
And what about airlocks and bungs? Do you know where your hydrometer is? All of this planning now Will save you from heartache in the future.