A man from Linlithgow who looked to revolutionise the way cider was made by homebrew enthusiasts has brought his innovative product to market for the first time.
Dr Nevin Stewart, a retired industrial chemist at BP, has devised a simple process for making clear apple juice or golden cider from surplus garden apples in a kitchen “without any mess or fuss”.
The 61-year-old, who was born in Bangour and raised in Linlithgow Bridge, has created a kit called Juice and Strain and has struck a deal with Vigo Presses to make the kit available online.
The whole process involves the use of a juicer, a hose, a fine mesh straining bag, a a bucket, a fermenting bin and some yeast. They have named their cider Onslow’s Dry.
Dr Stewart, whose sister Heather Speirs taught at Linlithgow Primary in the 1970s, gained 30 patents at BP.
He was forced to retire aged 41 after suffering two nervous breakdowns and a psychosis with instability at home and in the work place.
He has been fighting back ever since and says the hobby has given him a boost and purpose again.
Now living in Guildford, Surrey, his venture began in autumn 2011 with neighbours and friends Nick McDuff and Dick Nevitt, who wanted to make use of extra apples.
Dr Stewart said: “It came about largely by chance. We saw a bumper apple crop in the gardens of Scillonian Road, Guildford where my neighbours and I live. We faced the challenge of what to do with 500kg of surplus apples.
“It was over a pub lunch that we decided that we would give cider making a go.
“None of us wanted to spend any serious money on making cider. So the traditional route of buying, or hiring, pulp and press kit wasn’t an option.
“Instead my daughter offered up her small kitchen juicer which would accept slices of apple and off we went.”
The juicer wasn’t effective as they would have hoped but they bought a second hand whole fruit juicer and it transformed their productivity. Over the next few months the former Linlithgow Academy pupil experimented with different juicers but it was not without its problems.
He said: “We were having spillages of apple juice on the kitchen floor and even some on the walls too. My wife was taking a dim view of all of this and after a frank discussion had me on my hands and knees washing the floor.”
However, two tweaks tidied to the business transformed juice and then strain into a synchronous juice and strain process.
Dr Stewart said: “At its core it has a high performance centrifugal juicer which does the juice part. This is connected through a “juice containment and delivery adaptor” aka the hose to the strain part.
“It fitted onto the shaped juicer outlet spout and fed juice with fines into the straining bag. The bag was initially held in place within a large fermenting bin. The problem was that the bag would fill up and, if we wanted to change over to an empty one, it would take two of us to man handle the bag out and all the time it was wanting to spill its contents.
“The solution was a straining bucket into which the straining bag sat. This bucket, had lots of small holes drilled into its base, slotted neatly into the top of the fermenting bin.”
Whole apples are fed in at the top and fresh juice is drawn off the bottom. In a typical afternoon Nevin and his friends produce 15 gallons of apple juice which can take up two and a half hours,
He said: “J&S is a clean, efficient, quick, relatively low-cost and it transforms accessibility for the aspiring home cider maker who may have an annual surplus of garden apples.”
Over the last few years Dr Stewart says much of the time has been spent promoting Juice and Strain worldwide and is now published in six English speaking countries.
Juice and Strain is now available at http://www.vigopresses.co.uk/Catalogue/Juicers/Juice-and-Strain-Kit-91328.