David Llewellyn has been growing apples in his six-acre orchard in north County Dublin since 1999. His aim of making “real” cider for Ireland led him to diversify the output of his orchard to include apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar and Irish wine. We love his products and think they’re perfect additions to the Christmas table or great as stocking fillers for your food loving loved one.
Describe your orchard.
We have a plantation of pear trees where we grow half a dozen different types of pears, and we have a larger plantation of apple trees, where we grow a dozen or so different types of apples. I also have cherries, strawberries and quinces, and, of course, vines. We also have a section of the land planted with trees to provide a bit of woodland space and to provide firewood in the future.
Right now the yellow autumn leaves are falling, and soon the orchard will be dormant until the blossom buds start to swell next March. Things do get a bit quieter in the orchard during the winter, but somehow there is always a list of jobs to be done, which never manages to get fully scratched off.
Tell us about your products – which was the first and when did you start to diversify into apple-made products and other fruits?
Well I started off with just apples of course, but already with my first harvest I started thinking of making apple juice, which was a fairly new thing at the time. I had been making wine and cider on and off as a hobby for years previously, so with my second harvest of apples I decided to start experimenting more seriously with cider making. At the time around 2001 there were no proper ciders available in Ireland. All the well-known commercial brands are made mostly from water and sugar, with minimal use of actual apples, and I felt people should be educated about this. Once I had started fermenting my first cider, I then had the necessary ingredients to start experimenting, turning that into vinegar, and so it continued.
Tell us about this Irish wine of yours. Is it any good? How do you make it? Where can I get some to have at my Christmas table this year?
Well the wine has been a hobby of mine since I first became fascinated with the whole process of fermentation many years ago. I planted the first plot of vines in Lusk in 2002, and had my first small harvest in 2005. I grow several different varieties, but most of the vines I have now are Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is dry, fruity, somewhat light, and has surprised many who have tasted it! It is very expensive to produce because of the huge amount of work that goes into making wine on a tiny scale.
If someone were to try one of your products, which one would you recommend first and why?
Ooh, that’s like trying to recommend which chocolate to select first from the box of chocolates! I’d say maybe our balsamic vinegar because virtually everybody loves it. It’s unique because of the fact that it’s made from apples instead of grapes. It’s Ireland’s only balsamic vinegar of course, and it makes a really good gift for almost anyone, as well as being so useful in the kitchen.
Find David at the Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday and look out for his products at stockists like Sheridan’s Cheesemongers and Fallon & Byrne. You can pick up a bottle of his wine from Brechin Watchorn Wines in Ranelagh or Wines On The Green on Dawson Street.
Find out more at www.llewellynsorchard.ie
David Llewellyn’s Apple Syrup Glaze
“My favourite Christmas dish involving one of my products would have to be the baked ham with a delicious glaze of my apple syrup. The apple syrup is simply pure apple juice evaporated right down to a thick, rich syrup, with nothing added. It’s rich, sweet, yet tangy. People will end up fighting for the crisped fat encrusted with the apple and mustard glaze!”
- 200ml Apple Syrup
- 6 tablespoons of wholegrain mustard
- 1 Christmas ham
Now do this:
- Mix the apple syrup and the mustard.
- Spoon it over the ham after you score the skin and before it goes in to the oven to bake.
- Cook the ham according to your butcher’s instructions.
- Take it out of the oven halfway through to spoon a bit more glaze on top.