Rose, Cuthbert (b.1907) (part 1)
Cuthbert Rose was born in 1907. He produced traditional cider on his farm in Cocklake, a hamlet near Wedmore. Philippa Legg recorded Cuthbert in conjunction with her book ‘Cider Making in Somerset’. In this clip Cuthbert is talking about the barrels used in cider making, and the fermentation process.
Cider barrels at Cuthbert Rose’s farm. Cider barrels at Cuthbert Rose’s farm.
Sound File
Listen to Cuthbert Rose (part 1) - 1.87MB Duration 4:05 min.

CR: As far as the barrels are concerned we use pipe barrels, which are invariably empty port-wine barrels, which are imported into this country port wine.


PL: How much do they hold?


CR: A pipe barrel will vary, say, from 110 to 120 gallons. They vary a little bit in size, a little bit in shape, depending from what part of the wine growing they come from. But by and large it's a long wine-barrel, holding about 120 gallons and there are two methods - we always use them as standing-up barrels, that is, they stand up like that.  Other people use them as lying down barrels.


The disadvantage of, of a lying down barrel, or rather the advantage of a lying down barrel is that once it's full, there is only just that area around the top which could be exposed to the air, and cider of course doesn't like air, because cider with ultimately change from cider to acetic acid as the air gets to it.


Obviously, once fermentation is finished you've got to keep it sealed. A lying-down barrel, you've got to imagine that both the ends of the barrel are covered with cider.


Now if you used a standing-up barrel of course the bottom -all your barrels fill from the bottom up until you come to the top. Now when we fill it we use standing-up barrels because every year, we've got to clean the barrels, we've got to take the heads of the barrels out and scrub them out, you see, and put the head back.


Now then its rather an expert job to put the head of the barrel back to make it entirely water-tight, as it were, especially, old barrels which you've had for many years, with a certain amount of warping on the heads and that sort of thing, so that um, but we use standing-up barrels we line them all up along the cellar and then we start one end and fill that barrel up from the juice in the press and um, we fill the barrel right to the top, over the bung hole and um then go on to the next barrel.


That cider will then start to work, to ferment; the speed of fermentation depends on the time of year, the temperature.  What you make out in September um the weather's still quite warm - fermentation will start almost immediately and um it will finish earlier.  The early cider you can make in September say, the early morning sweet cider you can drink ten days after you've made it; whereas cider you make out come December time, much cooler, fermentation's a much slower process and they may be working for a couple of months. We allow the cider to work in the barrel itself.


When fermentation has finished and during fermentation of course it throws up small particles of apple, which are in the cider and when it's finished working, clean off the head of the barrel and bung it down. You daren't bung it down before it's working otherwise it would blow the bung. So far as subsequent process are concerned, there are two arguments - some people would favour, after fermentation - racking it off, and by racking it means that you draw the cider out of the barrel and put it into a clean barrel and leave in the dregs on the bottom and then you've got clean, racked cider.

Copyright Information
Copyright. This recording was made by Philippa Legg on 21st April 1984. Photograph ©SRLM. For access to full interview please contact the Somerset Heritage Centre.