Tuesday, 18 September 2012


I understand that Britain is suffering from a shortage of apples this year.

Well it isn't true in our garden here in Romania, we have an abundance of apples from 3 old trees that have hardly ever given fruit before.
Our poor apple tree, so weighed down by fruit that it's branches broke

Ironically, we have always planned to make cider for ourselves, because you can'y buy cider here in Romania, so (because of the lack of fruit from the old trees in previous years) we planted five new apple trees in Spring. I think the older trees must have realized and got the hump, because they have given us so much fruit this year we aren't sure what to do with it all.
Anyway, today has been all about collecting the apples. We have already eaten a fair number directly from the tree so today is about collecting those that are left before any bad weather sets in.
I think we have, as a rough estimate, about 1 Ton of apples to collect, in three different varieties.
It would take an expert to identify each type of tree and I am no expert, but one tree gives relatively large red/green sweet apples, one gives small green sweet apples, the other gives small green sharp apples.  
I have done some internet research and I think that these would make a nice mixture of apples to make cider with, which we are definitely going to do.
Two older trees still waiting to be picked

Unfortunately we don't have all of the right equipment to make cider in large quantities, so we are going to adopt a simple American method using kitchen equipment to make a couple of batches.
I know, I know, we are Philistines. British, from the home of the best ciders in the world, with all of these apples and we are going to use an American recipe???. This time though it is a matter of 'needs must'.
Homemade wine as well as a home made spirit called Tuica are very popular in Romania, and as a result the equipment needed to produce large quantities of home made booze is relatively cheap.
Just some of the apples picked so far
Fruit pulper's, fruit presses, large barrel's, demi-john's in all sizes, botlles, corks, airlocks, are all readily available, however I'm afraid that we just don't have the money to buy everything we need this year, so we are stuck with the kitchen appliance method.

Using this method though there is no way we will make use of all of the apples we have, so, rather than letting them go to waste we have offered them to our friends in the village, and it turns out that they can make a version of Tuica from them.
Now Tuica (pronounced Tsweeka) is a home made hooch, normally made from Plums. It's a sort of strong plum vodka, normally made to be about 40% proof, but can occasionally be as strong as 70-80% proof. It's powerful stuff, but it is absolutely delicious, if something of an acquired taste. 
If you can't make it for yourself (and let's face it, not everyone has a Still at home do they?), a 100ml measure of it can be bought from the local bar for 2 Lei.
Time for an amount and cost comparison I think.
A standard single measure of spirit in Britain is 25 ml, so 100 ml is the same as 4 single measures in Britain, i.e 2 doubles.
Now a cheap shot of Whisky, say, in a pub in Britain costs I believe in the order of £2.50 in bars in and around London (I know it is variable across Britain but this is just a comparison exercise after all), so four Whiskies (i.e 100 ml) would costs around £10.
Well 100 ml of Tuica in village bars costs 2 Lei, roughly the equivalent of 40p!!!!!
Is it a surprise that it is  a popular drink amongst the workers in the villages?

Now don't get Tuica confused with the poisonous stuff they are finding at the moment in other Eastern European countries.
That is a blend of industrial alcohols that the makers know are poisonous, they just don't care about it.
Tuica is made at home by experts and is checked by experts, and a duty is paid on it before consumption, and it is safe. After all, the guys who make it want to drink it too, so they are going to make sure it is good.
The making of Tuica is a social occasion and can go on for two or three days, during which much of last years brew will be tried. The plums, once nicely matured and soft (and as I have said sometimes apples) go into a large barrel to be heated and they are stirred for hours, sometimes days, depending upon the size of the barrel. Effectively this does all of the pulping and pressing for you as well as reducing the water content of the juice and taking out a lot of the poisons that might be there. Only when the resident 'expert says it is ready is the fire put out and the juice extracted and strained to leave the pulp behind.
The juices are then distilled, once, twice, three times, until an acceptable clear spirit is obtained and Tuica is produced.
I am giving a very rough description of the method of production , because, so far I haven't witnessed it personally. With 1 Ton of apples to give away though, I am hoping that I will be part of it this year, and I will write again when I have been.
I will also let everyone know how the cider goes. The recipe looks very simple, so lets's hope it works!!


1 comment:

  1. ok, steve, we'll bring you cider next time when coming to Deva. Rucsandra


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