JOHN Hancox has got two apple scratters set up in his back yard. The first is a tall funnel that gobbles apples and spews out pulp at an alarming rate. The other is more rustic and involves human effort and wheel-turning, for which he has plenty of volunteers, and which does the same job of crushing and chopping the fruit.

“I’ve always quite liked the idea of me driving round the country with one of these, Breaking Bad-style in a Winnebago,” he says.

The point of making cider, as this scratting and pressing session at Hancox’s home in Glasgow’s west end goes to prove, is not just the cider.

It’s the company, the fruit-tasting, the chat, the coffee, pastries filled with apple slices and cinnamon. It’s the slight hysterics as the juice starts to flood so unstoppably that people are suddenly laughing and running around trying to find jugs. It’s the flurry of panic when a bucket of apples tips over.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about how, in the wake of craft beer, craft cider has arrived. It has come a long way since the now hugely popular East Lothian artisan cider, Thistly Cross, first launched in 2008.

For people like Hancox, though, it’s not about some new product or trend – but rather a community activity. It’s about getting together and pressing the fruit, about the kind of apple and cider day Hancox is holding on October 20 in Partick Hill, in Glasgow, where, yes, there will be cider drinking, but also knowledge-sharing and apple pies and cakes, with contributions encouraged.

Hancox is the maker of Clyde Cider, a craft cider made from apples donated from across Glasgow. He asks people to bring apples harvested from local gardens or community sites along to be pressed, and offers them apple juice or cider in return – the idea being that this saves some of the many tonnes of apples around the city that get wasted. Some of it he ferments into cider, which is sold in select outlets like Valhalla’s Goat and the Cave in Glasgow.

“It’s not really, for me, a commercial cider,” he says. “It’s a way of using the apples and making it into something fun. The idea is to get the harvest used.

“Last year was an astonishing year for apples and it actually got quite embarrassing. My wife phoned up one day. She couldn’t get in the front door because it was piled up with apples. She wasn’t dead chuffed.”

Craft ciders, he observes, “seem to be popping up all over the place”. Hancox says: “Cider is easier than craft beer making too. The kit for cider is pretty accessible. It’s about getting a pile of apples and squishing them up and then adding some yeast and stuff – it is pretty easy, whereas craft brewing involves a lot more gear and expense. And it’s just a nice thing to do.”

There are a lot of reasons to love this drink, essentially a light apple wine. For those bothered about their booze carbon footprint, a cider produced from local fruits, from windfall, is highly sustainable. A drink like Clyde Cider is reducing food waste. And, in these uncertain times, with Brexit ever looming, there’s a security, Hancox believes, in being able to make our own.

“I think if people were self-sufficient in booze,” he says, “it might put everybody’s mind at rest a bit.”

Hancox never really set out to become a cider-maker though. “My thing is I sell the fruit trees and I encourage people to plant the old varieties,” he explains. “The cider is a way of preserving the crop, so in a way I’m very keen to get apples used for eating and cooking as well, as the primary function. Then using what’s left for the cider, and making products from cider.”

Glasgow is scattered with many apple trees, as are other cities and towns across Scotland.

Many of these found there way there courtesy of Hancox, who runs Scottish Fruit Trees and has been planting orchards for schools and community groups for the last 15 years. When he started, he says, he felt like was a “sort of lone lunatic talking about apple trees”.

“Now it’s curiously fashionable. About a year ago, I was invited back to a nursery where we planted an orchard 12 years ago. My daughter was in P2 then. But I went back and the trees are really big and the thing that really struck me was that all the kids that were at that nursery weren’t born when we planted the trees. But there they are picking apples and eating them off the tree. That dream is happening – and it’s a nice thing, a gift for the future thing.”

That sentiment is echoed by Fiona Buchanan, best known for having set up the Byres Road deli, Heart Buchanan, who is helping with the pressing.

“Whoever plants apple trees,” she says, “and however they grow, they are a gift to the future. You don’t plant an apple tree for apples for yourself next week. You do it with the next generation in mind.”

In these times of climate emergency that idea seems particularly pertinent

As Hancox puts it: “To me, something like planting fruit trees is a positive action that people can take. It’s about food security. It’s about faith in the future. You are planting not for your immediate benefit.”

Buchanan has arrived bearing treats made from puff pastry and apples, as well as cider tales. Last year, she recalls that she and her partner decided to make their own cider press out of a washing machine barrel. “Some friends of ours are in a band called Anthrax and they were over last year and we did a big pressing for them, heavy metal apple juice.”

Hancox has laid out an apple-tasting table, an aromatic display of Scottish varieties, the glowing reds, yellows, greens and blush pinks of James Grieve, Katy, Discovery. Among the apples we taste is the Bloody Ploughman, a chunky dark fruit, with a fragrant afternote. “The apocryphal story is that a ploughman was scrumping somewhere in Perthshire and he was shot by an angry gamekeeper who was guarding the apple,” Hancox explains.

But for these apple-lovers, the fermenting doesn’t stop at just cider. A cider vinegar bottle is being passed round and thrown up against the light, where its feathery, stranded “mother” dances like an alien in its green glass bottle.

It is this wafting form that is credited with having benefits for gut microbiome and therefore general health.

Sheila Kupsch is a food scientist and nutritionist and has been a volunteer at Scottish Orchards for the past eight years. Currently, she has an apple cider vinegar brewing in the house which she is hoping to have ready for cider day.

“There are a growing number of studies into the gut-brain axis,” she says. “Some even show that you can improve depression and anxiety, and improve your mental health just by ensuring that you’ve got a healthy gut. And apple cider vinegar is a great way to improve your gut health.”

Hancox, meanwhile, is also interested in promoting and creating a branding for Scottish apples. He is keen to shift us towards eating fruit grown here, rather than the apples shipped in from New Zealand or South Africa we see on most of our supermarket shelves.

It’s not inconceivable, he says, that we could grow enough apples to feed ourselves. “But we would need a way of storing them and apples that are commercially available are stored in cold storage.”

“Scottish to the core” is the brand logo he is trying to develop. It’s there on his Clyde Cider label – a reminder that while cider may not seem a very Scottish drink, it is one we are well placed to develop. Certainly we could make more of it.

“We have the apples. Not to use them would be a waste,” says Hancox.

Scotland's native apples saved by school pupils and communities

Apple Days around Scotland

Scottish Apple Day And Cider Festival,

Partick Hill Bowling and Community Club, Glasgow, October 20, 1.30-4.30pm

A celebration of Scottish apples and ciders with talks about cider-making, orchards and fruit growing around Scotland. Visitors are invited to bring along apple baking.

Geilston Garden

Cardross, October 5, 12pm

A family-friendly event for all ages to celebrate the apple harvest. Apple juicing and archery in the William Tell Dell.

Harestanes Apple Day

Jedburgh, October 6, 11am-6pm

A huge display of apple varieties, organic gardening advice, games, music, local food and drink –and an apple-inspired menu in the cafe.

Alexandra Park Apple Day

Glasgow, October 19, 12-4pm

Organisers encourage you to “bring all the apples you can carry” to juice in their chomping machine. Plus apple identification by expert, Andrew Lear, kids activities and herbal remedy walks.

Dunrobin Castle Apple Day

Golspie, October 26, 10.30am – 4.30pm

Pick and press apples in the garden and drink the fresh juice. Bags of apples of old Scottish varieties to buy, plus guided walks of apple orchards not normally open to visitors.

Ravenscraig walled garden

Kirkcaldy, October 26 1-3.30pm

Tours of the orchard, questions answered by the gardeners and apple themed food and drink. Ravenscraig will also have its new apple press in action, offering people the chance to press their own juice. Bring apples and empty bottles.