Come with me to discover the secrets of cider-making !
First stop : the orchards
One sunny autumn afternoon I set out to learn the secrets of this fresh, sparkling drink at one of the best-known producers in the region ! Kerné Cider Farm in Pouldreuzic invited us for a behind-the-scenes tour at its busiest time of year.
Marie, a budding 11-year old scientist, and I joined a group of 20 people and followed Laura, our guide, to the orchards, a 10 minute walk away. Kerné process 2,000 tonnes of apples every year, so this small 7000m² orchard only represents a tiny part of their production. They have other apple trees throughout the area and also buy apples from individuals.
Although a large number of apples have already been gathered, some varieties are still on the trees and the sunlight which falls on them reflects their beautiful colours. We learn that there are around 8,000 varieties of cider apples in existence ! They can be bitter, bitter-sweet, sour or sweet and the way in which they are blended is the secret of a dry or sweet well-balanced cider.
Discovering different types of apple
We learn that an eco-system exists in the orchards in which insects, birds, etc. all play an important role.
Next, Laura suggests we try to recognise the 4 types of apple by their taste which turns out to be much easier said than done !
What happens to the apples
After visiting the orchards, we return to the cider works to see how it is made. First, the apples are stored according to their variety and orchard of origin, before being washed. They mustn’t stay in contact with the water for very long, or they will lose the yeasts present on their skin which are necessary for fermentation.
Then the apples are pressed to extract the juice which is put in a settling tank for 5 or 6 days before being filtered and left to ferment for several weeks. The blending and bottling takes place much later, between January and August. It takes about 1 tonne of apples to make 800 bottles of cider. Kerné produce 13,000 hectolitres of cider in total, so it processes about 2,000 tonnes of apples !
Next we head for the lovely shop, which was opened in July 2016, where small glasses of cider and apple juice are waiting for us to try. We sip them sitting comfortably in front of the fire. Just next to us in the workshop area a Hallowe’en cocktail demonstration is taking place. The cider farm organises workshops and events for children and grown-ups all year round.
My visit ends with a little shopping ! The shop has a good selection of locally-produced specialities, both sweet and savoury and of course its ranges of cider and juices. I even discovered a sparkling apple juice which I can strongly recommend !
I spent a lovely afternoon discovering the different aspects of cider-making. Kerné Cider Farm is a great place to visit with children too !