We package all our own produce at 'Udders Orchard Cider. We sell our cider in bottles, pouches and "bag in box". Due to our pub friends being closed for most of the year, it has been up to the bottle shops to get our cider out their. Shops like Hip Hop Beer Shop in Lindley and Bierhuis in Ossett have been filling the gap. This has meant that we have had to do a lot more bottling than usual.
Bottling is by far the most arduous task. Firstly we blend the cider to taste, adding different ciders together, adding sucralose for sweetness if needed, to get the taste profile you'd expect from our range. Most of our cider is bottle-conditioned, meaning small amounts of wild yeast is allowed into the bottle to feast on any remaining fermentable sugar, producing carbon dioxide, which is absorbed into the cider, which is released upon opening, giving a mild effervescence. Because we use a natural method of carbonisation, this can vary. We may add a small amount of sugar to help in this process. We also add a tiny amount of sodium metabisulphate (sulphites) to inhibit oxygen that may get into the cider in the process. Oxygen is definitely the main enemy of good cider.
If no sugar is added, as there is plenty of natural sugar to aid natural carbonisation, this is what is called Pétillant naturel. Some of our cider is produced this way, although we hardly mention it.
Look out this year for our Cox SVC Pétillant Naturel which will be available in the spring.
Having blended all the ingredients (99% of is fermented apple juice) we leave the batch for a couple of days to see the redial yeast working away, we then bottle it in freshly sterilised bottles, cap, label, and batch code. It takes a working day to package 400 bottles.
Its a very very labour intensive, but once in a bottle the cider is very safe from much that can harm it for several years.
The pictures attached are of a recent bottling run of Luddite, our best-selling dry cider, which is a blend of our local dessert apples such as Katy, Golden Delicious, Cox, Bradbury, and myriad others, and Dabinett bittersweet cider apples from our friends at North Down Farm in Somerset. The dessert apples give it a real fresh, zesty zingy essence, the Dabinett a tannic depth.