Making apple washing easier … eventually!

by | Apr 13, 2022 | Business, Developments, Fruit | 0 comments

What a weekend! I know it’s now Wednesday, but what a whirlwind that turned out to be.

This weekend we were really excited to go and take a look at a barrel washer. I know, right – this is what classes for excitement nowadays! I also realise it looks like a giant dog kennel, so I think did everyone else who was staring at it on the way down the A1(M)! It was a long old trip up the country to North Yorkshire, but absolutely worth it. I had already spoken to Tong about the machine and its capabilities. (As an aside, what incredible customer service they have – big shout out to Ian for being so helpful).

We’d been looking for ways to make apple washing a lot easier. Now that we’re juicing, we wash our cider apples prior to pressing. The 2021 harvest was an enormous learning curve for us and washing certainly proved to be our bottle-neck. I’d seen lots of videos on YouTube with tutorials of how to build a root veg barrel washer, which looked do-able. The problem with those is when the apples exit the washer, there’s still a lot of manual handling involved. Imagine my excitement when I find a little washer, with an exit elevator! (Stick with me on this).

It’s actually a little potato washer. Tong tell me that it’s a sample washer which actually couldn’t be more perfect for us! They estimate the throughput to be around 1.5 – 2 tons per hour, which should sit really nicely in line with our mills. We had a good look around it and it looks like a great little machine. I’m really looking forward to setting up our processing line for this season!

Apples are on trees though, why do they need washing?

Er, yes. Fair point. In general, our apples are pretty clean anyway – they don’t usually need much in the way of a wash at all. When the apples are ready, we shake them from the trees and then use our Little Orange Helper to collect them up. This is great at the beginning of the season for the early apples, but as things progress, the farm inevitably gets muddier. So, just we like to make sure that the fruit is nice and clean before milling & pressing. We’re also looking at implementing some rainwater harvesting tanks in the orchards themselves, so we can keep the pickers cleaner, reducing the amount of apple washing needed both for us and for our lovely apple customers!

So a successful trip up there, ending in a slight disaster on the way back down.

Heading back down towards home, feeling really happy with our purchase, our van decided it wasn’t as ‘charged’ as we were and the alternator failed, leaving us and the giant dog-kennel at Wetherby Services. It took Green Flag just over an hour to get someone to us which was great!

We were on our way again, with Jamie our very nice driver – oddly across the M62 to Manchester – to meet the next recovery truck. (via an incorrect postcode and a 3 point turn down a dead end).

As it turned out, there wasn’t a single driver who was able to tow the trailer home. So, our new little barrel washer was locked up in a storage yard along with the van and we were bundled in a taxi to return home without it. At this point, it was midnight, so the idea of travelling the remaining 2 hours 15 minutes home in a beautiful Mercedes taxi seemed quite a treat!

We were on our way again.

Alas, just as we were both nodding off in chauffeur-driven luxury, the taxi broke down! The alternator had failed on the taxi also – how does that even happen to people twice in one night?!

Anyway, we finally made it home at 3am and our van & little barrel washer joined us at 5pm the following day (thanks to Dave from iRescue)!

Now safely back at the farm, we’ll give them both a good look over and hopefully our next expedition will be much less eventful. You sometimes just have to laugh and go with it.


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