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How to make homemade apple juice -
some useful advice

Picking apples for juice

For the best juice the apples should be properly ripe. Normally this is checked by cutting open an apple. Dark brown/black pips are ripe, not white, green or light brown. Some judge by if the tree is dropping the apples, but be careful, as sometimes the trees will shed a load in summer so it can concentrate on the others. These "June Drop" apples are not suitable for pressing. Also if the fruit is going rotten or mouldy, it's not good for juice. But you needn't be too fussy; a bit of windfall bruising, or some skin damage is fine, although I recommend washing windfalls.

The best juice is made with a balance of sugars and acidity. In practice, this means a mix of cookers and eaters. Personally, I prefer a tilt of the balance towards cookers (so a bit sharper, not oversweet.) But if you have a sweeter tooth, or youngsters, then 50/50 is great. If you find the juice of your trees too sweet (or too sharp), then its easy to fix by adding some from the other end of the spectrum.

A lot of orchards have a wide variety of apples and you can get nicely complex and more interesting juices by mixing than through just a single variety. Some varieties, such as Bramley, will actually keep improving/sweetening after they’re ripe and have dropped in the autumn, and can even keep into the new year. But you must avoid the really unpleasant type of apple – eg. crab apples or strong tannin cider apples. Use these for cider – “The worse the juice, the better the cider.”
 
After you’ve milled and pressed the apples, the juice can be drunk as it is. But after two or three days it will start to go fizzy, even in the fridge, as it begins to ferment. It may taste delicious at this time, but it can also be dangerous as it can lead to exploding bottles! So to keep your juice fresh and stable for more than a few days, you either need to freeze or pasteurise.

Freezing is the easiest, if you have the space. Simply fill clean plastic bottles (eg. milk containers) to about 2 or 3" from the top (the juice will expand as it freezes) and put upright in the freezer. Or you can pasteurise to kill the yeast and any bacteria. If you have an Aga/range, then you can do it on top, or we sell a small electric portable pasteuriser. Whichever way you do this, it must be done carefully to avoid the danger of exploding glass bottles. The normal hobby style of pasteurising is 'in-bottle', but you can also pour into sterlised bottles at temperature. If you choose to pasteurise, I'd recommend reading up on it first. If you have any queries, you can always ring us here at Pressfruit to ask.

Whether you freeze or pasteurise your juice should then last easily until the next season. Cheers!

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