British Columbia

In-cider information: Cidery owners want your excess apples to put them to delicious use

Some apple-tree owners can find themselves with more fruit than they can handle during picking season — but a B.C. cider company is now looking for donations to make sure those apples don't go to waste. 

Windfall Cider owners collected more than 900 kg of fruit from Vancouver streets, backyards last year

Nathaly and Jeff Nairn are the co-founders of Windfall Cider in Vancouver. (Stephen Quinn/CBC)

Some apple-tree owners can find themselves with more fruit than they can handle during picking season — but a B.C. cider company is now looking for donations to make sure those apples don't go to waste. 

Nathaly and Jeff Nairn, co-founders of Windfall Cider in Vancouver, can often be seen cycling around the city at this time of year, collecting apples from people's backyards to turn into the fermented drink.

Last year, the couple picked more than 900 kilograms of apples on their own in Vancouver. 

"This year we want to triple the amount of fruit that we collect," Nathaly told Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition.

The fruit will be used to make a cider set to be released in the spring, a portion of proceeds from which will go toward the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Windfall apples — those that fall to the ground of their own accord — make up two-fifths of the total crop in B.C., according to the Nairns, with much of it, mostly in urban settings, going to waste.

A family tree can produce around 180 kilograms of apples in a season, she says.

"That's a lot of apples in a three-week span for a family of four. That's a lot of pie," she said. 

Jeff and Nathaly Nairn say they will accept any type of apples. (Justin Student)

The Nairns don't go by looks when they're collecting fruit from Vancouver backyards, and say all apples have delicious potential.

"Apple cider can really help with sustainability and food security in that the apples that are sold in grocery stores are the good-looking ones," Nathaly said.

"There's a lot of bad-looking apples that can just go into a crusher and get turned into apple juice, apple sauce, and apple cider," she said.

Windfall of ideas

While the Nairns' harvesting activities make their company's name particularly apt, the name was originally inspired by Jeff's childhood memories of visiting self-serve orchards in Brampton, Ont., where he grew up. 

In the morning, orchard employees would pick up the windfall apples that had fallen overnight. They were then put into baskets and sold at discount to orchard visitors. 

"My mother would get my sister and I to climb up into the trees and shake the trees," Jeff recalls. "[Then] she'd gather up the apples and call them windfalls so she'd get the discount."

That experience stuck with Jeff all the way until he started making cider with Nathaly. 

"All of our ciders sort of fall out of the ideas of windfalls that happen in your life," he said.

Those interested in donating their apples can drop off the fruit on either Sept. 7 in Beaconsfield Park, or Oct. 20 in Riley Park between 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. PT. 

Donors can also arrange a pick-up date with the Nairns, who will come to their home to collect the apples. 

Listen to the full story here:

Winterfall Cider's Nathaly and Jeff Nairn speak with Stephen Quinn about putting excess apples to good use. 9:20

With files from The Early Edition

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