Townsite joins Tim Wale from Tutts Clump for a demonstration of how proper pressing makes proper cider
In an age when the profiteering of big corporations triumph over quality and small businesses are being squeezed from all sides,the story of Tutts Clump is a heartening tale of the one-man-band winning accolades and success with only hard work and a quality product in his armoury.
Ten years ago, fed up with the inferior commercially produced version, Tim Wale produced 30 litres of home-made cider from his kitchen table using local apples. Inspired by a demonstration at the Dorset Steam Fair in 2006 where he saw an old-fashioned rack and cloth press, Tim invested in his own table-top press and the results were good enough for local pubs to sit up and take note. The response was so positive that production doubled the following year and by 2008 he was making 3000 litres and since then the phone hasn't stopped ringing.
His success was based on a very simple idea - no filtering, no pasteurising or carbonating, just proper cider which hasn't been mucked about with. The result was a drink of such outstanding quality that not just pubs and restaurants, but The National Trust, Majestic Wines, Budgens and ten branches of Waitrose were clamouring to get their hands on it. These days he has to produce around 90,000 litres per year to satisfy demand and with a major national chain knocking on his door this looks set to increase again. 'Blimey, better get a shift on', said Tim smiling.
Townsite went along to Tim's charmingly ramshackle premises on a farm between Frilsham and Tutt's Clump to see how it was done. Amazingly, he still manages alone with the help only of one of his five daughters working full-time and another part-time girl. Between September and December they manage to produce an astonishing 1000 litres a day as well as attending food fairs and local events.
The apples are washed by hand before going into the mill where they are pulped. This pulp is then arranged on what are known as 'cheese-pillows' which are stacked for the juice to be squeezed out. The juice is left to ferment for four weeks and if you hold your ear close to the tank you can hear it fizzing as the natural yeast feeds on the natural fruit sugars to multiply and produce carbon dioxide. A small amount of salt is added as a preservative before it is left for a year to mature. And, er, that's it. Incredible isn't it? The only variations in this method come from the apples he uses; his Jazz Cider for example is made exclusively from Jazz apples and his Royal Berkshire brand is made only with coxes and russets. Sometimes simple really is best