Joe Morgan wrote to ask if he had sufficient tannin in his recipe:
“I have a lovely old Bramley (4m tall) a small James Grieve (3-4 years) and a small Charles Ross (3 years).
My questions are…
Would I need to obtain some crab apples for tannin?
What is the best time to harvest each tree, early or late?
Well Joe, firstly your mix will be fine without additional apples, but would be even better with some apples with a high tannin content. Crab apples generally offer this, and they do seem to be everywhere, so just ask around. If you cannot find any you could (purists look away now) add some black teas or raisins to the brew. This will give you some of the flavour profile provided by crab apples. You might even consider adding oak chips.
As for the best time to harvest, I wait till the apples are falling naturally. Let the trees decide when its harvest time. If not all trees drop at the same time, that is no problem. After all, the fallen apples can sit for a week or two in a pile in the garden. This generally improves things in my opinion.