A pressing invitation


We had the most fantastic time at the Community Garden last Saturday (October 1). A couple of regular attendees at our Saturday sessions – 10am until 12 noon every Saturday – had attended an apple pressing event organized by Hythe Environmental Community Group (ECG) and were inspired to replicate it in Rye, at the garden at the end of Love Lane.

The event was organised at relatively short notice, so it wasn’t possible to publicise it widely in advance. We weren’t sure how popular it would be or how things would work out. It turned out to be a brilliant success – the incredibly beautiful weather was a benefit, but the main source of energy was the enthusiasm and joy of the people who came. Dominic Manning and Graham Ellis arranged to borrow the equipment from Hythe ECG (many thanks to them) and trained the 16 people present on how to use it.

Three workstations were set up. The first involved chopping the apples into rough quarters and discarding any rotten bits. We used a mixture of cooking and eating apples, all gleaned from apple trees whose fruit would otherwise have been wasted, with kind permission from their owners.

The second was where a fancy piece of equipment was used. I didn’t try this myself, but it seemed to involve a people powered chopping mechanism where the quartered apples became much smaller pieces. Although the technical name for this is a scratter or rotary fruit mill, we called it the mangle and each batch had to go through the mangle twice.

Then the twice mangled pieces went into the presser, inside a hessian bag. The presser was beautiful – a lovely wooden bucket with smart green metal work and well-greased turning devices. We were warned not to touch the greased parts. Of course, we all did. We couldn’t help ourselves. We pressed one batch of twice mangled apples and then we added a second batch and pressed again. Again, powered by people, the results were incredible. We had so much juice. And so fresh. So strongly flavoured – I know some people who are diluting it because it packs a mighty punch.

All the leftover apple pieces went into the composting bins, an extraordinary achievement. Masterminded by Graham Ellis, the compost area absorbs huge amounts of waste coffee grounds from cafes around Rye. It is also well supplied with manure from the donkey sanctuary and produces excellent quality soil which we use on the beds in the Community Garden.

Right now in the garden, we have some lovely pumpkins plumping up for Hallowe’en, some cabbages that have been spared by the rabbit population, masses of sage, some chard, carrots looking healthy, onions for which we have high hopes and a few other bits and pieces. In the greenhouse which was installed this year we still have some tomatoes, a few chillies and a single, perfect aubergine.

Everyone is welcome to come to the Community Garden. Our regular work sessions are Saturdays. 10am-noon. It is also absolutely fine to come and not work – pull up a chair, have a chat, bring a friend or make a new one. It is always open so feel free to use it – it is yours. We do have chairs there and a state-of-the-art composting toilet, that is worth a visit in its own right. There is no running water so bring your own drinks.

As for the apple pressing – it was such a success we are planning another one. We aren’t sure where – we are thinking it might be fun to have it in central Rye so we are looking at the options there. We will let you know, but in the meantime, start saving bottles and also if you know of an apple (or pear) tree with fruit that you think might otherwise be wasted, then keep it in mind (check with its owner!). We would also be happy to help glean fruit with and for you – contact us via our Facebook page or leave a comment here.












Image Credits: Krista Copeland .

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