We caught up up with Fiona Hailstone, from the National Trust’s Killerton Estate, Devon, to talk all things ‘apple’ at BBC Countryfile Live.
Killerton Estate scooped Best Overall Drink award for their apple juice in the National Trust’s Fine Farm Produce Awards last Thursday.
Orchard manager Fiona was at BBC Countryfile Live this weekend, speaking to visitors about Killerton Estate’s cider – another Fine Farm Produce Award winner.
What’s special about Killerton’s apples?
We’ve got about 50 acres of traditional orchards at Killerton – and just over a hundred varieties of apple. All are local to Devon, including some varieties unique to Killerton: the Killerton Sharp and Killerton Sweet.
Are cider apples different to eating apples?
Cider apples generally taste quite sharp. You’d pull a funny face if you bite into them.
How do you make cider at Killerton?
A lot of volunteers help us collect our apples. Everyone mucks in. We even have a working holiday in October, where people who have had too much of office work can come in and do some harvesting.
We collect around 15 tonnes of apples each season. From that we’ll make about five thousand litres of cider.
We press all our apples on site using our two hundred year old press.
Are orchards good places for nature?
The number of traditional orchards in Britain has declined drastically in the last fifty years or so. They’re a protected habitat. We manage ours without any pesticides. We graze them with local sheep. We sometimes get a build-up of nettles. The apples don’t like that – you’ll get a worse crop.
Do you have a favourite cider?
Killerton’s sparkling cider. If you like a traditional dry taste, then I’d recommend our still cider.
Taste National Trust produce at BBC Countryfile Live – at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, until Sunday 7 August