Windfall Apples For More Rakia

Windfall Apples For More RakiaIt was quite a sad expatriate who looked out on the land over the last few weeks. Only being at the farmhouse at weekends meant that the land and produce only got tended to once a week. There had been a mass of fruit on the farmhouse apples trees this year. There wasn't anything last year due to the drought; so you would think that I would be pleased with the outcome this time around. Well actually this made it worse, as all the apples are in the process of rotting as a they lay on the ground due to on day of high winds early in the week and me not being there to gather them up. It was complete frustration not being able to eat them or make conserve from the seemingly 'dead' crop lying on the ground. To my mind a whole year's feast of apples will now continue to decay where they were. They had been grounded too long and now just fodder for insects and straying turkeys that who were all doing a grand job as it stood.

We had more Bulgarian family guests staying at the farmhouse this weekend and they knew all about Bulgarian ways and village life. As one guest surveyed the garden, he came back in the house all excited shouting ‘Yabalki rakia!’ (apple rakia). With this statement I had to disagree saying that most of the apples rotten and have no use for anything other than animal feed, but he was still very insistent that they could be used for rakia.

Before I had even agreed to give it a try, the whole family were already outside in the orchard picking all the wind fallen apples. The trees were shaken for a rainfall of other rotting apples that were also gathered up.

Windfall Apples For More RakiaI had just finished distilling 30 litres of rakia earlier that week from the grape crop and the idea that more rakia could be made from his fallen and decaying crop of apples began to eat my doubts away. These are Bulgarians, they know about rakia and the process, why do I doubt them? Well, it was is just my English tradition on being brought up on sterilisation and cleanliness in any winemaking process that leads me to believe this wouldn't succeed. The thought of all that bacteria, soil, insects, worms and even bird crap on the apples would not be good for the fermentation process. I began to think more and concluded that, rather than let these apples totally rot; it's certainly worth a try.

After 30 minutes all the apples had been gathered in a barrel and put into the summerhouse for a short period of storage. I kept insisting that this wouldn't work but the usual 'Ne problem!' kept coming back.

When the 'cider' is made, the idea was to add water and sugar on a 3:1 ratio and leave it to ferment further, then it will stand until next spring when the distilling can take place. There didn't seem to be any worry or doubts that this wouldn’t' work with the time this barrel will be spent sitting there with the rotting apples.

Windfall Apples For More RakiaNext weekend we have to bring 30 kilograms of sugar and 90 litres of water from the well to be added to the apples in the barrel. after the first fermentation has started Every day we will have to mash up the apples further to help the fermentation with a very strong apple wine or cider result after about a month. to six weeks. It will certainly be warm enough with the ever ready and warm sun shining through the mainly glass summerhouse where the barrel stands.

Lingering doubts in my head as to whether this would work were subsiding even further with more thoughts: What the hell do I know what works and what doesn't in Bulgarian rakia making from apples? I only been here a few years and have no qualification to argue that it wouldn't work. Besides, what Bulgarians would waste money on buying the increasingly expensive sugar? If there was any chance it could fail they would do it. From these points I think I was now convinced it should work?

So the wait is on.