It’s been the perfect summer to explore new cocktails and experiment with drink combinations, and if you are a regular reader you will know that we have been writing recently about refreshing summer spritzes from Italy, gin and whisky cocktails from The Cotswolds and Tequila cocktails from Mexico.
So we thought in this article, we would take a look at something a little closer to home and a bit different with drinks and cocktails based on apples and cider, which is of course a wonderfully refreshing drink all on its own.
We head to Matfield in Kent where you will find Charrington’s, a family-owned business with two generations of apple growing experience, based at Cryals Farm which is around 100 acres in size and grows nothing but apples, supplying premium quality apples to all the supermarkets in the UK.
Knowing exactly the right time to pick apples is something only years of experience can teach you, picking the moment when the apples are at their peak flavour and texture.
Clive Charrington bought Cryals Farm in the 1960s but it’s his son Alex who runs the farm today and has successfully diversified the business. So, when their hand-picked apples are a millimetre too large or too small for the supermarkets’ packaging, the team at Charrington’s turn them into ciders, juices and even air-dried apple crisps. This of course, reduces any food waste and makes the farm far more sustainable.
At Cryals Farm, they grow traditional varieties of classic British apples as well as a few of the more exotic ones, including Gala and Fuji. All of the apples are hand picked and if apples fall to the ground, they stay there and are not used. In total the farm grows over 8 million apples every year. The majority of the Gala, Cox, Russet, Bramley, Zari, Fuji and Cheerfull GoldTM are sold to supermarkets. Cheerfull GoldTM comes from nearby Sissinghurst and goes into making the farm’s delicious apple crisps. Only using their own apples also guarantees their quality and traceability which is important in today’s world we live in. In fact Charrington’s is Red Tractor and LEAF accredited and has won many awards for their ciders and juices.
As for the apples themselves, well three of the most popular variety are firstly the Cox, which is perhaps Britain’s favourite apple. It has an excellent flavour and distinctive tang to it, as well as being crisp and attractive in appearance. Secondly, the Russet, which is often overlooked in favour of newer bright and shiny varieties that you see today in supermarkets. They have a complex taste of nutty sweetness and are superb sliced with cheddar cheese for example. And lastly, there is the Bramley, a favourite for cooking, from a great tasting apple crumble or pie to an apple sauce to accompany a roast pork dinner. What makes them such good cooking apples, is their flesh, which becomes golden and fluffy when cooked.
Charrington’s have been producing ciders for around five years now, and together with the juices and crisps, is a growing, albeit small part of the business. What distinguishes Charrington’s from traditional or commercial ciders, is that they only use hand-picked apples.
They carry out wine-style fermentation of pressed apple juice in small batches and carbonate their ciders, much like Prosecco, rather than doing a secondary fermentation like they do with Champagne, to get finer, creamier bubbles.
Apple and cider mixers
Popular in bars this summer, is Charrington’s Private Bin, which is a dry sparkling cider and mixed with Aperol makes for the perfect Aperol Britz (British twist on the Aperol Spritz with prosecco).
Captivating Cox apple juice, which is light with a tang, goes well with with flavoured gins, especially berry ones like Pinkster.
Ravishing Russet apple juice, which is rich textured with a nutty sweetness goes well with spiced rums but is most popular with toffee Vodka and believe it or not, tastes just like alcoholic toffee apples!
Ciders obviously pair well with the classic pork/apple combo. Cryals Classic, which is a medium sparkling cider, is popular with a hog roasts at weddings and makes for great pairing with the rich meat and is much classier and wedding appropriate than a normal cider.
And if you’re looking for a healthy snack, then Charrington’s Apple crisps are just the ticket, as they are sliced and air dried with nothing added and go nowhere near a fryer.
Charrington’s offer free delivery on any orders to TN and ME14-20 postcodes if you happen to live in Kent, or throughout the UK on orders over £50. For more information, please visit https://charringtonsdrinks.co.uk
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Charrington’s