Second Cider Season

4 04 2017

It’s hard to believe I’m on my second apple harvest…. nor can I believe how different this year’s is from last. I guess having a record dry winter followed by a record wet one should be a clue, but I was never expecting a total loss from the Pink Lady crop…

fareast2Seeing Matt next door harvesting apples, and having this keen as mustard Sicilian wwoofer chomping at the bit to get things done here, I decided to drive the 4WD over to the ‘Far East’, where last year I had my very best apples, all borne out of total neglect. I only seem to go there once a year to pick apples!

Having the 4WD this year meant I was able to reverse down the steepest bit of land on fareastthe block all the way to the bottom, knowing I’d be able to drive back out again. I didn’t do this last year because I had zero confidence I would be able to get back up the hill with a 2WD ute, and as a result, those apples were never harvested…. it’s a long uphill slog when you’re carrying maybe 30 or 40kg of apples.

With all the winter rain we’ve had, the Blackberries have been doing overtime, and picking apples down there literally means drawing blood..! But the Fannies were just amazing, by far the best ones on the whole property.

Vincent (the wwoofer) who surprised me with his knowledge of horticultural issues was pondering why this is so, but we’ll never know I guess. It’s just amazing how these apples were almost not affected with black spot – a normal by product of wet conditions which absolutely everyone down here is complaining about – nor the dreaded coddling moths. Maybe it’s the soil, maybe it’s the better drainage from the steepness (though Matt reckons he has the same problems up the back of his block, and it’s even steeper) maybe it’s even the presence of so much Blackberry? Black spot is after all the result of monoculture….

Most Pink Lady trees didn’t even have apples on them, and those that did….. well look for yourself and see the total disaster…..


…. and the Pink Ladies was staggering…


The difference between the Geeveston Fannies









Because Matt’s crop is also badly affected – he said to me that one single black spot equals 100% infection – he’s decided to go into juice production for selling at markets. So we 20170401_120022struck a deal. We would juice our apples for cider, in exchange for roughly half a bin of apples. Which is all I had to give him anyway! Black spot may affect the appearance of the apples for shops, but they are just as nice to eat, skin and all, especially when you know they’ve never been sprayed with poisons! It’s simply amazing how people will buy poisoned apples that look perfect, but not organic poison free imperfect apples that are just delicious…… and of course black spot is invisible in apple juice!20170401_120414

So the following weekend, we drove the 450kg of apples we’d collected next door, and started juicing

Fanny juice has this amazing golden glow to it, and it’s the nicest apple juice you’re ever likely to taste…… because you won’t find any anywhere in the shops for starters! It’s such a pity that in the fermenting process, all that colour disappears from the resulting cider.

Vincent and I went home with 120 litres of juice in fermenters, which should last me until next year’s harvest, as I’m still drinking last season’s cider. And very nice it has turned out too.






4 responses

4 04 2017
Ted Trainer


Thanks for interesting info on the apple ad cider theme; sometime can you tell us what you think is the best combination of apple varieties for making cider, and how best to do it…and if possible why varieties for Sydney climate/temperature


Ted Trainer

On Tue, Apr 4, 2017 at 8:18 AM, Damn the Matrix wrote:

> mikestasse posted: “It’s hard to believe I’m on my second apple > harvest…. nor can I believe how different this year’s is from last. I > guess having a record dry winter followed by a record wet one should be a > clue, but I was never expecting a total loss from the Pink Lady c” >

4 04 2017

Hi Ted, I am new at this…… and as I only have two varieties here – plus a ‘mystery’ apple that may turn out to be nothing more than rootstock apple – I can’t help you much….

Geeveston Fannies are renown for making good cider, and I can vouch for that. Last year I did one batch 75/25 Fannies Pink Ladies, and another that was 50/50. The 75/25 is very good, haven’t tasted the other yet.

This year I’m trying one batch that’s 90/10 Fannies and mystery apple……

My neighbour knows a lot about this, he’s selling most of his apple to the Willie Smith Cidery, who helped him graft thousands of trees with French and English cider apples varieties. We won’t know how that turns out for a few years yet….

There’s always Google……? 😉

4 04 2017

I am in Melbourne. We have had a bad year for black spot on our pink ladies too, but none on the other apples (Golden delicious, Pitmaston pine, Egremont russet and Kidds orange red) – I wonder if pink ladies are particularly susceptible.

4 04 2017

My neighbour seems to think they are better suited to slightly warmer climate…. all I know is that once I have more time on my hand to play orchardist, the Pink Ladies will be regrafted with something else……

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