As a real-fruit cider producer, the apple season is the most important time of year at Thistly Cross. We’ve already started accepting the first intake of late Summer/early Autumn fruit and as a proudly Scottish brand, we’re inviting you to donate your spare apples. In return for cider or apple-juice of course!
One of the things that makes Thistly Cross Cider so unique is our blend of Scottish heritage apples all hand-pressed on our farm in East Lothian. Our friends at Tweed Valley Fruit Trees have lots of great info on their website about the history of apple varieties, and even choosing the right apple tree.
We’re lucky enough to know friendly apple-growers across Scotland in lots of interesting places including all kinds of estates, walled gardens, and orchards. But, Thistly can’t make all the cider it wants to without your help, so every year we accept fruit donations from all over Scotland, from a single bucket-full to a tonne delivery. And to say ‘thank-you’ we swap your fruit for our very own cider or apple juice. Roughly speaking, we operate a ‘bucket for a bottle’ system; 1 bucket of apples (around 7kg) = 1 bottle of cider. Think your apples might fit the bill, read on:
Which apple varieties do we accept?: Most apple varieties are welcome (apart from crab apples – sorry!). Part of the reason our cider has such an authentic flavour is its unique blend of apple varieties. And don’t forget that we also accept pears, providing these fit the same criteria as our apples. Unsure whether your fruit is suitable or have other questions about fruit donation? Drop our Head Cidermaker, Peter an email to: email@example.com.
How do I know if my apples are ripe?: Very simply, healthy apples should drop to the ground of their own accord when ripe. However, the wind in Scotland makes this a little tricky to gauge, as big gusts can encourage apples down before they’re ready. Here’s a great online guide about how to tell whether your apples are ripe.
What condition of apples do you accept?: Thistly needs good ingredients to make good cider – that means clean, sound, rot-free apples. It’s important there’s no rot present – it really is true that 1 rotten apple can ruin a whole barrel. The fruit is weighed and sorted on arrival, but it saves us time if you take out any bad or heavily bruised apples beforehand.
How should I store my apples?: Apples should be stored in a breathable container – paper bags, tattie sacks and crates all work perfectly for this. Please don’t store your apples in plastic bags as this causes them to sweat and rot.
When should I bring them?: The short answer is, as soon as possible after harvesting. The longer answer depends very much on the variety and condition of the apple. If you pick directly from the tree it’s best to get them to us within 1 or 2 weeks of harvesting. The most important thing, though, is that they meet all of the criteria above.
Apples are milled at Thistly HQ on Wednesdays then pressed Thursdays/Fridays. As we’re busy during the harvest, we can’t always get to your donations the same week you drop them off so it’s important they’re fit to be stored for a few days. We don’t want to waste a single apple!
Brilliant! My apples fit the criteria, what next?: For smaller amounts, please drop them off to The Store at Belhaven Fruit Farm (see address below) and enjoy a cup of tea and a look around the farm shop whilst you’re there. Open 10am- 4pm, 7 days a week.
Belhaven Fruit Farm, Thistly Cross Roundabout, Dunbar, East Lothian, EH42 1RG
For larger fruit donations, call us: 07960962510 / 01368863246 or email Head Cidermaker Peter on: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange. We may be able to collect donations weighing over a tonne, but you’ll need to contact and arrange in advance.
What if I’m too far North?: Handily we now have a Highlands drop-off point based at Gordon Castle. Opening hours and visitor information can be viewed here. The Gordon Castle Estate has its own cider, in collaboration with Thistly Cross, which will be swapped for any fruit donated at the castle. Address: Gordon Castle, Gordon Lennox Estate Company, Fochabers, Moray, IV32 7PQ