Sunday, 15 September 2013

Egryn and the Diamond Apple

On my way to the Egryn open day I filled a bag with green apples from the tree at the bottom of the drive; knobbly, blotchy, firm, bitter and not the sort you’d see on a supermarket shelf. In a few weeks the goats would be around to feast on them.

My apples were poured into a plastic bucket and I felt sure that Richard Neale, the cider expert, would reject them. ‘Just the job Huw!’ as he sliced and chopped them with a shiny garden spade. From here they went into a hopper with wheel-driven teeth at the bottom which chewed them to bits. Thence to the press, topped with bits of wood, and screwed down to release a stream of apple juice through a filter into a vat. The taste was great, not sweet but so fresh.

Others had brought varieties of apples along and they all mixed in to what will be excellent cider this time next year. No other ingredients would be added, just pure apple juice working its magic for six months in the vat before bottling.

We discussed different types of apple and which were best for cider. Richard had brought some Jo Jo’s Delight, the other famous tree from Bardsey, the one for pollinating the Afal Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Apple). Both of these can be supplied by Ian Sturrock who also provides the Diamond Apple, a tree with its origins close to Egryn.

The story goes that the Diamond, a ship sailing from New York to Liverpool with a cargo including apples, struck Sarn Badrig just north of Barmouth and sank in 1825. Locals rescued some passengers, took a liking to the American apples and planted the pips which became the Diamond Orchard of Dyffryn Ardudwy. Descendants from those pips are now sold as the Diamond Apple and have been planted at Egryn, a beautiful and historic holiday cottage run by the National Trust.

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