Posted: 16/05/2013 at 18:16
I make cider from my current apple trees - Bramley and Cox. While this doesn't give a perfect blend for cider (too sharp) I still manage to drink gallons of it! In a good year when the trees fruit well I can easily make 20 gallons which has about 7% alcohol. It is hard work though and it takes a couple of days to make this much. This winter I bought two cider varieties to supplement my trees and get a better balanced cider.
As you are starting from scratch then you can pick the varieties you want. There are three main groups of cider tree - bittersweet, sharp and bittersharp. Each has a different level of acid and tannin so you blend the juice from these to make the perfect cider for your own taste. I would recommend getting suitable varieties for your location, like these from this supplier http://adamsappletrees.co.uk/ShowDetails.asp?id=370
This website http://www.cider.org.uk/frameset.htm is a great source of information about cider. I have some photos showing my cider making kit here http://www.sussexhill.net/Events/Making_Cider/index.html#K7008014 My crusher and press came from Vigo http://www.vigopresses.co.uk/default.aspx I also have a couple of dozen gallon demi-johns, several 5 gallon fermenting bins and a couple of kegs. This sort of kit isn't cheap but will last for many years. You might be able to pick up some bits cheap from local newspaper ads, Freecycle etc.