As the first trailers of apples start to arrive at Thatchers’ Myrtle Farm for the annual apple pressing, the Somerset cider maker is celebrating British farming through its partnership with British Food Fortnight.
British Food Fortnight is the biggest annual, national celebration of British Food and Drink, organised by Love British Food , taking place from 18th September to 3rd October.
“As a British company with a long farming heritage, we’re delighted to be celebrating harvest with British Food Fortnight,” says Martin Thatcher, fourth generation of the Thatcher family to be making cider in Somerset. “It’s such an important time of year to shine a spotlight on the dedication to quality that our apple growers throughout the West Country proudly demonstrate, day in, day out through the hard work and pride they put into growing the very best quality apples. And this passion for quality allows our cider makers in turn to craft the very best tasting ciders here at Myrtle Farm.”
Throughout its Somerset orchards, Thatchers is expecting a good harvest with apples of high quality. The family cider maker is also anticipating an increasingly substantial crop of apples from new orchards planted five years ago.
“The mix of weather conditions since spring appears to have benefitted the trees,” explains Chris Muntz-Torres, Thatchers’ orchard manager. “The trees have really been enjoying the warm sun in September,” he says. “Even though the spring got off to a slow start with cold, wet and windy weather, our blossom was pollinated effectively thanks to the sterling work of bumblebees and solitary bees in the orchards. It’s well known that honey bees tend to stay in their hives during poor weather conditions, but the bumblebees are quite happy foraging for food when its colder.
“With the colder spring followed by a hot spell, and then more rain, our orchards have flourished. Last year we saw an exceptionally early start to harvest, with this year returning more to what we’re used to. This allows the early harvesting fruit to retain and develop its flavour for longer on the trees. Interestingly this year our early cropping Katy apples have all been at optimum ripeness for harvesting in a shorter window than usual, with our cider makers now busy pressing the juice into cider.”
As well as 500 acres of its own orchards, Thatchers has apple growers throughout the West Country. All family businesses, some have worked with Thatchers for many years, others are much newer, but they all have one thing in common, and that’s taking great care of their apples with high expectations of quality. Their commitment plays a huge part in Thatchers’ journey of creating innovative, high-quality ciders for today’s rapidly changing consumer tastes and demands. Find out more at www.thatcherscider.co.uk.