On the road again and this time visiting a cider and beef farm in Cowfold, Sussex. A great story, which is what interested me, immediately, whereby Andrew left his job in the city, around 2012, and started farming. First concentrating on the cattle, buying the first herd from his Uncle in law, and choosing to mix Sussex (darker in colour) with a Red Wagyu(paler red in colour), a Japanese breed. The calves are weaned at around eight months and are predominately grass-fed. The winter ration also includes by-products of human food production such as brewer’s grains, apple pomace, local linseed meal from oil pressing and molasses. Using products that would otherwise go to waste helps us to produce consistently flavourful, tender and delicious beef.
Walking around the farm, you can tell its relatively new with a roundhouse barn, quite unusual in Sussex.
After just four years Andrew Knowles and his daughter Rachel started making Silly Moo (an unusually civilised farmhouse cider). They had the orchard, 4 acres and over 19 varieties of apples, so decided to hit the cider market…
The Knowles tested the water locally, with producing about 7,000 litres but 2017 this was 15,000 and last year they made over 30,000 litres of Silly Moo cider.
“It is the successful marriage of the East Coast and West Country cider styles, made from 19 traditional cider apple varieties harvested from our orchard, which are blended with the dessert apples from our annual cider swap.
The process is pure and simple; fresh apple juice cold fermented in small batches on the farm. Once fully fermented, the cider is blended with more apple juice just before packaging.
The bottles & cans are 100% apple juice (bigger producers will often use sugar & water, which is obviously cheaper) which is why it has such an intensely fresh apple flavour & aroma. Lightly sparkling, vegan & gluten free.
If you’re wondering how the name came about you should see our cows being silly moos, skipping and jostling to devour the apple pulp after we press each autumn. “
In 2017 the farm harvested their first crop of Trenchmore Heritage wheat, a landrace of mixed heirloom wheat varieties. Great genetic variety and higher in flavour than modern wheat varieties which have been bred for yield. A small batch, stoneground, whole wheat flour is available locally and our wheat berries are proving popular with local chefs. More commonly used in France, wheat berries are packed full of nutrients and fibre and have a great nutty flavour – maybe they will catch on here!