Volume 5

Scrumpy – Making Cider in the Kitchen

A sweet windfall to drink and enjoy

by Tony Thorogood, Burra, South Australia

Scrumpy is an old English word derived from the word scrumping, to collect windfall apples or, in many cases, to go raiding in the middle of the night and help oneself to the fruit. My wife, Susan, is from Yorkshire in northern England and she used to go scrumping the neighbours apple tree when she was a lass and my dad, a London lad, would go scrumping the large green cooking apple Bramley’s when, in August, the whole family uprooted itself and took the train down to Kent to go hop picking. 

What is scrumpy?

Scrumpy is young, unfiltered, rough, straight from the keg cider.  In Europe they call it Apple Most and it is made in Austria, Southern Germany and Switzerland and in the Frankfort area of central Germany.  Most is a young fruit wine usually from apples or pears which is often drunk while still fermenting, however it is still drunk months later when it has gone quite dry and sharp.

When you have made your Apple Most you can drink it south German and Austrian style with a thick slice of speck, which is a type of home cured smoked bacon, it can be quite fatty but not necessarily, and with your speck you also eat a hard rye bread or you can drink it as scrumpy Somerset style with a hunk of bread, a lump of cheddar, thickly sliced raw onion and chutney.

This fresh, new season style of cider is yours for the making, as it can be made in the home without the need for any expensive equipment at all.

How is it made?

Four or five days before you plan to drink your cider get hold of the best possible apple juice you can, you either slip down to the local market or supermarket and see what is available, or you use a juicing machine.  Juice a blend of about two kilos of tart and sweet apples.  Next three quarters fill a one litre plastic bottle with the juice, add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of bakers or champagne yeast to the container, tighten the lid and shake, then, and this is very important, loosen the lid.  Put the bottle in a warm place but out of the sun for two days, three days if you want a drier cider.

After two to three days fermentation, should be well underway and you should see froth on top of the apple juice – this is the bubbles released when the yeasts turns the apple sugars to alcohol.  Now you can try a small sip of your brew, if you are happy with the result place the bottle in the fridge to slow down the fermentation.  If the fridge is cold it will probably stop the fermentation completely.  After twenty four hours you should have a slightly spritzig, slightly alcoholic, medium sweet cider, it will be cloudy with bits of dead yeast in it and if you want to you can filter it through cheese cloth.  Do not try to store your cider, drink it and enjoy it.  In the meantime keep it refrigerated.

Alternately you can let your scrumpy completely ferment to a dry cider and this is excellent in cooking.

Tony Thorogood (right) is the author of Cider Drink it Make it Cook with it and it is available from the website www.thorogoods.com.au – the book is $25 plus $5 postage within Australia.