Thursday, 14 February 2013

PGI - What is it? And what does it mean for Henney's cider?

Have you ever noticed this little symbol on the back of a bottle of Henney's cider?

It means that Henney's Cider has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status. This is a very good thing, but I wonder how many people actually know what it means? So I thought I would write a post about PGI - and what it means for Henney's - and for Herefordshire cider in general.

Under EU legislation, there are certain geographical food and drink descriptions that can only be used by accredited manufacturers. Such descriptions are called Protected Geographical Indications and the term "Herefordshire cider" is one of them. Basically it means that cider can only be labelled "Herefordshire" if it is produced in Herefordshire using local cider apples and certain traditional techniques. It is an assurance of provenance and authentic cider making and you can read the exact requirements here.

It seems rather obvious doesn't it, that Herefordshire Cider should have to be made in Herefordshire? But so many terms and descriptions are meaningless these days - for example 'farmhouse cider' or 'country cider' are not protected in anyway, as such anyone can use them, even to describe the mass produced 'ciders' that are really imported concentrated apple juice supplemented with cheap forms of sugar. So it's comforting to know that anything terming itself Herefordshire Cider really is the genuine thing.

Henney's was accredited PGI status several years ago, when Mike first applied for it. He has to be able to show when and where he buys his fruit, where it is milled and pressed, and how his cider is fermented, matured and stored prior to sale. As a genuine Herefordshire craft cider, Henney's sails through the process - after all, it's never a chore for a true cider maker to talk at length about his product and how it is made!

So, for anyone wondering, that's what the little symbol on the back of every bottle of Henney's is all about.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Cider Pancakes with Caramel Apples

A quirky, cidery alternative to a plain pancake. The batter is made using cider instead of milk, and the pancakes are served with delicious caramelised apples  - a great winter pud. Or just a tasty treat on Pancake Day!

Cider Pancakes with Caramel Apples

For the pancake batter:
75g plain flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
100ml Henney's Dry Cider
couple of pinches of ground cinnamon
a little oil, for frying

For the Caramel Apple filling:
350g eating apples, cored and chunked
50g golden caster sugar
40g butter
icing sugar, to dust

1. First make the filling. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the sugar and cook over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves and begins to caramelise.

2. Add the apple and cook for five minutes, stirring to ensure apples are cooking through and covered in the caramel. Keep warm.

3. Make the pancake batter. Place flour, cinnamon, salt and eggs in a large bowl, whisk well until lump free. Gradually add cider, whisking until smooth. Pour into a jug. 


4. Heat a frying pan until hot, drizzle a little oil into the pan, then pour in a little batter from the jug, immediately tilting pan to spread the batter as thinly as possible. Cook until top is set and base is golden, then toss your pancake and cook the other side. Transfer to a warm plate and keep warm while you cook the remaining pancakes...

5. Serve each pancake folded over a spoonful of the apple caramel mixture and dusted with icing sugar.

6. Enjoy your pancakes with a glass of Henney's cider!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Tree Farm - Henney's HQ and our home

Back in the Autumn we moved house. (Dreadful timing - cider makers should never, ever move home during the busy pressing period!)

We are still in Bishops Frome, the village where Henney's Cider has been based since day one, but we are now living at Tree Farm, a smallholding on the outskirts of the village.

At the moment there is precious little farming going on at Tree Farm - a bit of haymaking, a few tenant sheep over the winter, one bee hive and three pet goats - but the plan is to establish a traditional standard cider apple orchard over about four acres.

We committed to buy the farm ages ago - have had a lot of work done on the house before moving in - so Mike was able to start planning the orchard and ordering trees back in 2011. He chose 10 different varieties of standard apple trees, which have been growing in the nursery at John Worle Ltd for the past 18 months.

Now in their dormant winter state, it is safe for them to be uprooted and moved, so in just a few weeks time a vast number of trees will be arriving ready for planting.

It's going to be an exciting time - to finally see Tree Farm start to live up to its name - and I'll make sure to capture the journey step by step on this blog.

Tree Farm - before the arrival of any trees

 Rufus the goat can't wait for the tasty snacks apple trees to arrive 
and practices his tree nibbling on an elder.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

A Hearty Chicken Casserole with Henney's Cider

I'm looking forward to this part of 'the job' - writing a series of posts on cooking with cider. It certainly won't be a hardship to test out some tasty recipes (and it gives me something to do and write about when Mike's busy doing cider making things...)

Our first recipe, a hearty chicken casserole, is one we've adapted as it originally called for dry white wine, but I contacted Lucy Cash, the recipe writer, beforehand to ask if she thought it would work and she said yes, give it a go. So we used Henney's Dry Cider - and it was very nice.


A Hearty Chicken Casserole with Henney's Cider

2 large chicken breasts, skin on
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil & a knob of butter
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
150g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
100g fresh or frozen peas
1.5 tablespoons mushroom ketchup
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
200 ml Henneys Dry Cider
500 ml chicken stock

1. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper

2. In a large pan or casserole heat the oil and butter and fry the chicken breasts for a few minutes on a high heat until they are nicely browned. Remove from the pan and place to one side.

3. Turn down the heat, then add onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, potatoes, peas, carrots and mushroom ketchup, give everything a good stir and season with a decent dosing of salt and pepper. Add rosemary and bay leaves and cook for a few minutes

4. Return the chicken to the pan, add the Henney's cider and chicken stock. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, pop on a lid and leave the casserole to simmer for a couple of hours, until the chicken and vegetables have cooked through and the sauce has reduced. 

5. Serve in large bowls, with hunk of bread and glass of Henney's cider! 

A perfect 'one pot' mid week meal, with all your veggies in there too. The recipe suggests serving with crusty bread but, honestly, it's pretty substantial on it's own. The glass of cider on the side is essential though!