Long Meadow Cider is a family-ran orchard farm in Armagh, which has been owned by the McKeever family for three generations, and which sells their own Apple Juice, Apple Cider Vinegar and Cider.
The apple juices, apple cider vinegars and ciders are made out of fresh Bramley apples — which have been grown fresh on the family orchard — and made only with the pure pressed apple juice that comes from the fruit, with no concentrates, chemicals or added water added.
They’ve recently started selling tours to the public that let you see around the farm, that teach about environmental farming, offer baking experiences and let you test some of their homemade ciders and juices.
I attended the Apple Blossom Cider Tour, Cider Testing and Bread Baking Experience on the 8th of October — which thankfully was also quite a nice day weather wise. In this blog, I’m going to outline everything I learned while I was up on the farm on the day, how enjoyable the experience was, and of course how accessible it was. But no, unfortunately you will not be finding out how drunk I got on the day (despite what my thumbnail might suggest)!
We started off in one of the cold storage areas, where we also found out more of what goes into apple production. I found that I was one of the only. people who knew what the Mother in the apple cider vinegar was (not something you have to know about though, because the family will help answer anything you’re unsure about), and it’s basically the brown, jelly like substance at the bottom of your Apple Cider Vinegar (and is BRILLIANT for your health, btw). We even got to taste small helpings of the Apple Cider Vinegar in shot glasses, and it was delicious.
The building we were in was also very accessible, and the wide spaces also made it easy to get around.
Next, we were brought round to where the apples are pressed. Again, it was very accessible, but it was slightly colder than the last place, though luckily we didn’t have to stay long.
We were brought deeper into the orchard after that, and Catherine — our hostess, and also one of the family — explained more to us about how environmental the farm actually is. I enjoyed learning about what the process is for all of the good apples, what happens to the bad apples (which we were allowed to pick up and take home, but would otherwise be sent down to other companies); how the honey that goes into some of the ciders come from bees that are kept near the bottom of the garden, and that the wood off the trees that fall down will be turned into benches.
Other members of the family also came up throughout the day as well, and they were all as friendly as each other.
The only bit of trouble I had was when getting into a converted tea room / shed area at the back of the farm, which the family have only recently decided to add on, as a place for hosting events. It had a step into it, but luckily I was in my manual wheelchair, and having seen how difficult it was for me to get in, the family have said they will see about adding a ramp in. We did get help anyway.
This is where the Soda Bread baking and cider tasting happened, or as I put it, where all the interesting stuff happened.
First of all, I would like to admit how I am not the biggest Bread fan, and the only reason I wanted to go on the tour was because I saw the word, Cider. For that reason, I only really aimed on eating myself through the crackers that had been served, with some homemade Apple Chutney with it as well (yes; just another thing that was homemade).
But then everyone voted for a Treacle Soda Bread to be made, and I’ve nearly been half way convinced into at least trying and eating quite a bit of bread after eating that bread.
I’m still not a fan of just Soda Bread with butter, but Soda Bread with butter, the Black Butter they had on offer (and which was mixed into one of the other loafs), Cheese and Grapes? There is nothing better if you are a fan of butter and sweetness!
Moving onto the ciders, however, all of the flavours they had for us to try were absolutely gorgeous! Be that the Rhubarb and Honey Cider (which is perfect for a Summer’s day); the Oak-Aged Cider (which is perfect for a Christmasy drink), or the Blossom Burst. You can also get a Medium Cider, a Berry Blast Cider, and a Mulled Cider.
But Apple Juices are also available, if you aren’t a fan of alcohol, want to cut down, or want to engage kids in organically made goods.
Their apple juices include Pure Apple Juice, Sparkling Apple Juice, and Spiced Apple Juice — which I regret so much not having.
The only product you can’t purchase straight from the farm yet are the ciders (DARN ALCOHOL LICENSING LAWS), but you can get them from a local market up the road Everything else, however, is available to buy on the farm, or online.
The only thing I’d warn you to be aware of, however, is that the events are currently being promoted for a month ahead as a month behind, and this might make more sense once you see a screenshot. Hopefully that will be sorted soon though, after it is pointed out.
So overall, I really enjoyed the tour around the orchard. Again; it was very interesting learning about everything involved with apple production, even the things that I already knew, and other things that I didn’t know. The family were happy to answer anything someone asked them about — even if it was something simple — and everything we got to taste you’d feel lucky to try.
Yes; there was one slight problem I had with accessibility, but I wasn’t even the one who suggested the idea of getting a ramp. It’s extremely unusual when you’re disabled and going round somewhere slightly inaccessible for the owners to be the ones who say they should get a ramp, but that was the case on the day when we went up.
But hopefully the next time I go up, that will be sorted.
And for that reason, I will give the Apple Blossom Cider Tour, Cider Testing and Bread Baking Experience 5 stars.