Monday, 12 October 2009

Books for Apple Day and a rare complaint

We had a very busy market at Winchester yesterday, not least as Blackmoor's fruit stall wasn't there. We should have anticipated this as of course it was their Apple Day event. We went to their fruit show some 20 years ago, before the Apple Day tradition was started by Common Ground about 12 years ago. See their site for details, do try to get to an event near you of you can. Shame we hardly ever get to any events but our own, next Saturday at Durley (details on right of this page) and a few others. We supplied specimens of 20 or so apple varieties to a small event at a Southampoton library and Julia will be at Damerham Apple Day the following Saturday, from noon. details on Common Ground.

Second complaint since we started trading

We had a complaint from a customer about some apple juice she brought from us. They said it went fizzy, so must be 'off' or 'contaminated' because it had gone fizzy. This is the 2nd complaint we have had in 7 years. Of course I gave a full refund and said (sincerely) I was sorry they hadn't liked it, but I do always tell people that unpasteurised apple juice will ALWAYS start to go fizzy within a day or 2 due to the natural action of wild yeast on the sugar, turning it to alcohol.

I always tell every single customer it is UNPASTEURISED juice and to put it straight in the fridge and drink or freeze it within 2 days. I have kept our own juice for 8 days on the fridge, and I love it best when it goes a bit fizzy. Once it starts to go fizzy, it in no way becomes unhealthy, it's just that the sugar is being naturally turned to alcohol, thats all cider is. The only toxic substance produced is alcohol, which is perfectly safe in moderation unless one is a serious addict or on some medications. To stop this happening you have to Pasteurise (heat treat) the juice which increases the carbon cost and takes away half of the flavour.

This is the second complaint we have had in 7 years of trading. The other one was from an elderly gentleman in 2003, I remember the year quite clearly as that was the drought year when the apples were mostly very small, although they had very high sugar levels, due to the hot dry year (we don't irrigate). The flavour was marvellous and the cider the best ever.

He complained that the apples he bought from us 2 weeks earlier had been too small, and he didn't like the flavour either. I said I was sorry he hadn't liked our apples. I didn't think to offer him his money back, I decided later that I should have done although I had no obligation. Out of respect for his age I didn't make too much about the fact that we always offer free tastings and that he might possibly have noticed the apples' admittedly small size when he bought them.

We wish all the people who have ever complaoned about a Fruitwise Heritage Apples product (both of them) our kindest regards and respectfully point out that they need not worry, as there are plenty of chlorine washed, uniform sized, plastic wrapped, beauty paraded (I'll explain that term in a later post for those who haven't read 'Not on the Label') controlled atmosphere stored, mechanically packed, pressure controlled, and above all 'crisp and crunchy' global commodity Gala, Braeburn and Pink Lady apples as well as sterile apple juice (mainly from Chinese juice concentrate) in the supermarkets.

Actually we have had several other complaints about our juice so far this year, and we expect more. One lady bought half a gallon of it at the 2 day food and drink fayre at Winchester cathedral last Saturday and then complained on Sunday as her family had drunk the lot on Saturday night and they wanted more, but we had sold out so she couldn't have any. Several other people have complained when we didn't have any juice, because they wanted some. But I can only ever bring it when we have a stock of suitable picked, washed apples which are ripe but not ideal for raw fruit sales e.g. deformed, spotty, soft, over or under sized etc, and I have time to wash and press juice the afternoon before a market. Unpasteurised apple juice has a peerless flavour but it doesn't keep. That's why we tell people to chill it immediately and then drink or freeze within 48 hours. Unles like me they enjoy it even more as it turns nto natural hard cider

good source of books

Some nice books on apples, orchards, cider and all kinds of self sufficiency can be found from eco-logic books. I have dealt with them in the past and having just had a poke from them am delighted to recommend their site, I have had a good service when I used them in the past.


  1. Funny story!

    Last weekend my wife and I visited London, we're from Norway, and I decided to go apple-hunting! I finally found Cox Orange at a Sainsbury which was really good, but anyone haven eaten fresh apples from the tree would know that it was picked too early and stored. So we continued and found a large Whole Foods Market in Kensington I believe it was. There we bought a bunch of different apples. Our excpectations were really high from this shop, but all the "british" varieties dissapointed. The best apple? A imported Jazz at £4 / kg... Luckily we also bought some organic Cider and Perry, can't remember the make, but they were really good!

  2. Customers: the bane of any perfectly good business. It beggars belief how much information and advice one can give, only to get a complaint that arose because they did the opposite. I've had a man demand a refund because all his trees died after he sprayed them with weedkiller, a lady complain very vocally because the 2 year old cordons we sent her don't look like the pictures of the established ones in her book (I estimate that we have sold over a thousand cordons since we began doing them: not a single negative peep from any other customer!) and, to cap it all, a lady who refused to open her package because "I know what 300 saplings looks like and there are not 300 saplings in that package". She demanded that we collect them, which we are obliged to do, and you'll never guess how many saplings there were inside when we counted .... 306!

    Bless them, they do brighten up the day.


Welcome to the Fruitwise Heritage Apples blog. Feel free to leave a comment, I will try to respond where appropriate but FAQs may have been already addressed in my YouTube videos or the site. Remember, I am not a professional fruit grower, only an enthusiastic experienced amateur. Any and all advice is offered freely and with sincere good faith, but remember I might be mistaken, and my preferences,
soil and climate may be different from yours which would diminish the relevance of my advice, so check other sources before acting. In any event, I am not responsible for any outcomes!

Kind regards to all.