This month we welcome Turners Cider to the fold, a family-run local cider maker, based in Marden, Kent. This inspirational business makes its delicious cider with 100% apples…no cider concentrate, nothing artificial, only natural ingredients. We talk to May Turner about their cider-making journey…
What’s great about where you live and work in terms of cider-making?
This area, south of Maidstone, is prime apple growing country and we’re absolutely surrounded by orchards.
What makes your cider so light and tasty?!
We use a range of culinary and dessert fruit to make our cider and it is light and easy to drink. Very different to West Country ciders that can be very heavy. Due to the types of apples we use, our notes are crisp, clean, wine-like, delicate and of course, delicious. What we make is true craft cider. Unlike some mass-produced commercial ciders available, which can have as little as 35% apple content per bottle…
What made you start your business?
The business was just a hobby to begin with. Phil had always fancied making cider – and when we moved to Marden and were surrounded by all those apples, he really wanted to give it a go!
How did you manage to build it from scratch?
Well, my sister rented an old-fashioned apple press and a scratter (mincer) and one October day, we got all our friends and family and neighbours round and pressed the apples into juice. When we first made cider it was with the windfall from family and friends’ apple trees.
We used anything and everything. People brought Discovery, McIntosh Red, Golden Noble, Howgate Wonder, George Cave, Egremont Russet, Cox, Gala, Greensleaves and Grenadier. We picked apples from the wildings around the woods and fields. Much of the fruit we couldn’t even identify!
We read instructions in a book and left the cider for six months. When we tasted it, we were amazed. It tasted delicious.
We continued making cider as a hobby for a few years, but when we first sold some to a pub, we decided to give it a go as a business. We have been trading on a commercial level for four years now and have no regrets!
Who runs the business?
The business is run day to day by just myself and my husband Phil, although we do draft in some help when we get busy such as doing events Our family helps out too – but they all have their own day jobs, but every bit is appreciated!
What are the best and worst moments of running a cider-making business?
The best moments are standing behind the bar in a field in the sunshine, watching everyone in front of you enjoying your cider!
The hardest moments are in the Winter months in the cidery which are very cold – and we are next to a huge cold store – which is essentially like standing in a huge fridge! The cold is not so good for us, but great for making good cider!
Do you have a personal favourite amongst your ciders?
My personal favourite is the Apple Pie Cider. Its flavouring is homemade by me on the kitchen stove – made with a secret blend of spices! It’s a total labour of love to make, but the taste is sensational and it’s really versatile – chilled in the summer months and mulled in the winter months. When it’s warmed up, the whole place will smell amazing!
What’s next for Turners?
Next on the horizon for Turners Cider – the sky is the limit!!