Poingdestre: Cider

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An apple crusher, often wrongly called a cider press, perhaps understandably because the French for an apple crusher is pressoir ronde, and that is what they would have been called in Jersey years ago. The apples are crushed by a circular stone driven round a granite trough by one or more horses. The resulting 'mush' is then transferred to a press which squeezes out the apple juice, which is then fermented to make cider

The Reader will expect I should say something of Jersey Cyder and of ye making thereof. But before I doe, it comes next in order to speake of the materialls wherewith it is made. It is incredible what number of Orchards are in Jersey. There is never a house in all ye Island (some fewe in ye Towne and St Albins excepted) but hath one great or small; and some have seven or eight. The biggest are not past two or three Akers ; and ye least about a quarter of an Aker, or yet lesse, a small compasse to beare soe many apples as will yeeld twenty hogsheads of pure Cydar as it is often seene it doth.

Trees in rows

These orchards are planted in rowes, not per quincunceni, (for that would hinder the plough), but for the most part in right Unes, soe as the plough and harrowe may freely passe betweene the ranks.

It was never seene, howe well soever the ground be prepared and dunged, that there were two great Cydar yeares immediately one after the other. Two midle yeares there are offt times : for the nature of that tree is, in case of noe outward hinderance, to yeeld itselfe in fruite to the utmost; soe as many times one single tree hath borne a Butt of Cydar, which is three hogsheads. And in soe doing they sometimes soe over spend theire native vigor, that they can not recover it, but dye and drye up imediately after.

The traditional apple crusher was found inside a barn

Apple varieties

The kinds of Apples are soe many that it would be hard to reduce them to a certain number : for wee have ail the kinds they have in Normandy; and to these wee have added those of esteeme in England. If Cydar should be made of one kind onely, and soe a hogshead of each kind by itselfe, all those hogsheads would have a palpable difference both in colour and tast. Wee have some sorts that make Cydar as red as Claret, others as pale as water: some have the juice as thick as newe brew'd ale, and never becomes cleere, if it be not mix't with some of the sowrer kinds. All sweete apples make the Cydar sweete, more or lesse ; and the sowre apples likewise more or lesse sharp and thinne. I will not presume to determine ye quantity made in one yeare through all the Island : but certaine it is that the parson of one Parish hath made above two hundred hogsheads for Tithe in ye good yeare, and sixty in ye bad yeare: and yet Tithes of apples are not payd by all to ye just proportion.

The last yeare 1681 was ye greatest Cydar yeare that ever was seene. There were not found in ail ye Island Caskes for much above halfe that was made; and there were apples lost and spoyl'd for want of presses and casks, to an unknowne value. To supplye these orchards must be a continuall care taken : for the more they beare, the fewer yeares they'll last. The life of an orchard planted all at one time and soe lett alone till it decayes is not passt thirty or forty yeares : which is but halfe that of a man. The ordinary way with us to raise apple trees is from seeds or kemells of apples gathered from the Presse after ye juyce is express't, and sowed early in the Spring, then transplanted into rowes a foot distant one from the other, and kept cleane from weeds. In three or foure yeares they are fitt to be grafted, and in three or foure more ready to be planted in the Orchard.

Grafting method

Wee graft apple trees onely in ye slitt, not above a foot from the ground : for allthough grafting in the barke be sure, the graft holding onely to the side of the stocke is apt to breake off, if over laden with fruit. There is alsoe another way of propagation frequent with us, and that is by choosing among the trees boughs which have little round knobbs or knotts growing naturally out of ye wood and barke, like a wart : they are not comon to all kinds of apple trees, but to some onely : it matters not whither the bough be great or small : but it is best, when it exceeds not a mans wrist. Those they cut an inch under ye knobb, and plant them in ground conveniently moist about Christmas, at least a foot deepe ; and it will prove a good tree without further care, or if you mislike his fruite you maye better it to yor mind by grafting.

The cider press

As for the making of Cydar, it is briefely thus. Suffer yor apples to ripen upon the tree, and to fall off of themselves : for then nature herselfe tells you they are full ripe : then gather them when the Sunne is upon them, and they are free from moisture, and convaye them into yor apple roome; which ought to be just over yor Stamping Trough, which with us is made of a grainy stone of six or more peeces made hollowe with a pointed hammer, and soe wrought and jointed together by good Cement in a perfect circle, as if they were drawne by a compasse. The diameter will be twelve foot more or lesse, according to the circumference of the trough. In the Center exactly measured you shall place a strong post fastned belowe in the hollowe of a stone sett there for the purpose, and above against some beame.

Mill stone

Then you have in readinesse yor mill stone, like that of Tanners perfectly round, but not over smoothe, for feare of sliding instead of turning upon the apples, pierced iust in ye Center, with a strong rafter or peece of wood passed through it and fastned to the sayd Post, about which it must turn as ye mill stone goes about. This rafter must lett out beyond ye mill stone about halfe a yard, for ye grinding horse to be tyed unto. The place within ye trough will containe as many apples as will serve for one stamping.

An apple crusher at at Trinity farm

When you haâve bruised yor apples conveniently small, take them out of the trough, and putt them into a large vatt or fatt; and lett it stand there at least foure and twenty houres: then pyle them artificially under the presse by flatt layes, putting betweene ye layes Oaten reade fresh and sweete handsomely spread till it be raised to a pyle of three or foure foot high, more or lesse according ye proportion of yor bruised stuffe. Then lett downe yor presse upon it. But first put over it a square of wood strongly made in a just counterpoise, and some square blocks as many as shall be needfull iust under ye presse, and lett them stand ten or twelve houres thus that the Cydar may drop off leasurly without forcing; and soe you will keepe yor pyle from breaking and ye Cydar will be free from dreggs : and then you may use yor presse to drawe ye rest of ye Cydar, as is usually don. If ye presse be good, you will by degrees in lesse then two dayes soe drayne yor pyle, the layes in coming off wil be as thinne and as hard as boards, and will take fire like wood. Nowe there are with us three severall kinds of presses. That which is of greatest dispatch is called a Presse fer quentiam, such as are altogether used in Normandy. The other kind is with two vices, one at each end, after the manner of those we Bookebinders use.

Queslin press

The 3rd sort is called with us Queslin, and is that which was altogether used before these late times, by many preferred to ye other for ye fistcility of working by it. It hath but one vice in ye midle, and is screw'd into ye middle of a massive peece of Tymber supported at the ends by two other strong peeces called by us the Twinns, because they are perfectly resembling one another. The lower part of ye vice drawes after it another lesser peece of tymber, ye ends whereof move up and downe in ye two Twins. As ye Cydar falleth from under ye presse into ye fatt, it is strained through a Sieve, that ail ye dreggs and grosser bits may remaine behind; and soe putt into ye Caske, and suffered to boyle out ail ye remaining lees; and last of all stopped very close with a bunge, and covered with morter and salt to keepe it fresh, leaving a vent with a small pegg, to give it aire if need be.

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