Rare butterfly recorded

Our neighbour, Malcolm Easton, keeps an eye on our garden and orchard when we’re away. Earlier this month he spotted this rare and unusual White-letter Hairstreak butterfly (so named because of the ‘W’ under the wings). Only five have been recorded in North Devon in the past 30 years.

White-letter hairstreak
White-letter Hairstreak
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The Spice of Life?

Big apple juice producers strive for consistency. They use only a few well-known apple varieties and strictly controlled scientific processes to ensure the taste, colour and other attributes of their product are the same, year in, year out.

McG Juice does the opposite. We grow about thirty apple varieties, with each 100-litre batch comprised of a slightly different mix of apple types – the apples that are ripe on that particular day.

But the specific blend of apple varieties is only one factor contributing to the distinct character of our juice. Variations between pressings within one season, and across different seasons, depend on a whole range of factors, collectively termed ‘la terroir’ by the French (usually in relation to wine). There’s the weather and micro-climate: rainfall, humidity and sunshine all affect the ripening process. The soil, along with the weather, the rootstock and tree-form, influence the availability and uptake of nutrients. Even within our single orchard there are marked differences in soil type and pH.

Rather than fighting to control and compensate for variations in these factors – difficult given our tiny scale and traditional methods – we celebrate this diversity and the complex character it gives to our apple juice. Variety is good for flavour, and good for wildlife too.

Vive la difference!

An ‘addiction’ to sweet apples?

According to the chef Raymond Blanc – as reported in the Telegraph – Britain has an ‘addiction’ to sugar. He believes that ‘our taste is now so neutralised that we identify taste with sweetness’. According to Blanc, ‘for any great taste, you need contradictions, a mix of sweet, sour, acid, bitter or salty’. Read the full article on the Telegraph website.