Con Traas runs The Apple Farm in Tipperary. “My parents moved here in 1967 and began growing apples the year after,” he says. He was born in 1968. The farm is 68 acres, and grows apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, and strawberries. Most of the fruit is sold in season, often directly to the public at the farm gate or online.
Traas also makes a range of juices and vinegars which are available online and through many delis and health food shops nationwide. His latest enterprise is dried apple crisps. His vinegar is a staple in many kitchens, including mine.
“I suppose I grew up with it all. I did agricultural science and then a masters but applied to Aer Lingus to be a pilot. My parents, not unreasonably, asked if I was going to farm or not. Then I decided I would.”
In addition to the various juices he also makes a craft cider. It is worth looking at the farm’s website for comments on the difference between commercial ciders and Irish craft ciders. “Cider was accidental in a way; we were making it for cider vinegar but some of it was very nice so we started bottling it. It is a small part of our enterprise.”
It is made from estate-grown fruit, and is made with minimum intervention.
Last year he sent 10,000 litres of cider to Tipperary Distillery, where it was distilled and is currently being aged in oloroso and port casks for a few years. Unfortunately under EU law Irish apple brandy producers cannot call their product calvados or even apple brandy.