Juiced the ticket
Alumnus Dr Nevin Stewart is the brains behind a new device that aims to deal with the huge wastage of garden apples grown in the UK.
Surrey-based Nevin’s Juice and Strain kit makes home cider and juice production simple through the combination of a centrifugal juicer, a containment and delivery adaptor which connects to a straining assembly. With up to 90% of garden apples grown in the UK being discarded, Nevin hopes his device will help reduce this waste.
By the demijohn
“For every kilogram of those otherwise discarded apples, we can yield roughly 600ml of cider or juice”, says Nevin. “Whole apples are fed in at one end and clear apple juice, by the demijohn full, is drawn off at the other. It’s a clean, easy, efficient and relatively low-cost process that is suited for use in a domestic kitchen.”
Linlithgow-native Nevin’s flair for the production process comes after a career as an industrial chemist with BP. Now retired, he developed Juice and Strain as a hobby with some neighbours, who had amassed truckloads of apples from their garden orchards.
“We found ourselves with approximately 500kg of apples,” says Nevin. “And this was after making apple jelly, sauce, pies, tarts and turnovers, as well as giving away apples to family and friends!”
“So I suggested to my friend Nick, who lives across the road from us, that we could perhaps try making cider. Neither of us had done this before, but what did we have to lose?”
The pair initially borrowed Nevin’s daughter’s old kitchen juicer, but found it both messy and time consuming, and barely yielded much juice. Luckily, a charity shop was selling an old centrifugal juicer, which the pair bought, and which turned what is traditionally a cumbersome two-step process (shredding the apples before pressing the pomace in preparation for straining) into one synchronous action.
This increased their efficiency and juice-making production tenfold, which led to the design of the Juice and Strain kit – apples could now be fed in one end and clear juice would appear from the other.
“In that first cider making season we produced 300 litres of clear apple juice,” says Nevin. “Most of which we fermented out to golden, crystal clear cider.”
Since then, Nevin has patented his kit and begun to market and sell it. He has also featured it at a series of public events including charity fundraisers, country shows and cider and general food and drink festivals.
Asked about his time at the University of Edinburgh, Nevin recalls a productive and social period:
“Being brought up in Linlithgow, the University of Edinburgh was an obvious choice of Scottish institution for me,” he says. “The daily commute by British Rail was an invaluable 40 minutes in the day, which I would give over to single-minded revision and study of lecture notes. Indeed, I think that this contributed a lot to me achieving First Class Honours at undergraduate level.
“But I also remember having some time to flirt with my future wife when she sat next to me in lectures, and the lunches in Teviot Row House - they did a rather good mince on a bed of rice with a topping of curry sauce. And I also recall that McEwan’s Special was only 12p a pint!”
Having joined BP in 1980 and working largely on North Sea oil production chemistry, Nevin became a named inventor on 30 patents, including an oilfield-scale inhibitor which is still deployed today.
“In retirement I have continued to have inventive chemical ideas,” he says. “I still hope to add to the total of patents that hold my name - never give up on life's opportunities!”
Juice and Strain (external)