What To Do With The Apple and Pear Harvest 2019

It's a look that really says it all, the kind of look that says, 'What the hell am I going to make with all these?' I entertain the idea of making apple wine or apple leather but our last attempt at leathers were somewhat tangy and time consuming. It's not long before I cut up a few apples and toss them around in a frying pan with brown sugar and cinnamon. The smell is intoxicating, it fills every nook and cranny of the house, even small snails congregate on our family room window begging to come in. We have been picking apples since 2016 and year in, year out the crops get bigger because we keep care of our trees. Winter pruning is essential in any tree fruit system that has pears and apples or else you'll get no fruiting spurs within reach, you can see an instructional film here that I recorded a few years ago when the snow was heavy on the ground and my fingers went numb along with other parts of me. Now back to this year's glut which has to all be wiped down.

Apple harvest

That's right, we're having to dry our apples and pears. This is not some cockney rhyming slang that is somehow lewd or just a weird euphemism that means you really should see a doctor but the result of several days of rain. The ground is brimming with puddles, the hens have waders on and any chance of me building new steps to the greenhouse has gone out the window as any steps built would simply sink away or float downhill. The plus side though as D and I sit there drying the fruit with some cloths is that this is the first year we've had pears, this is an old variety called Beth and we have already eaten some, and considered how to make them into a liqueur. Sometimes you have to look forward to the winter months and the alcohol you can drink to keep warm. That's our excuse anyway. It's not a massive crop but from a cordon pear tree it is respectable. If you want to know more about pruning cordon pears and apples, you can find a post here guiding you through summer pruning which is important for cordon, espalier and fan forms of trees.

Pear Beth

It is our stalwart Keswick Codling apple that brings in the biggest yields, glorious green apples that range from tart to sweet. It's now a matter of grading the apples, windfalls and wasp attacked fruit won't last long so they go straight in the cooking pile, we can't eat the smaller apples but they make great additions to that seasonal foraged fruit, blackberries, and there's plenty of them around here.

Keswick Codling Apples


Carol starts to weigh in the apples as the second and third trugs come in. We have 80lbs of apples alone and we draw up a list of people we know will eat them, cook them or barter with us for something they've grown. We wonder if we could sell them to the pub for beer. D however has other ideas and starts in on the biggest sweetest apples drying on our kitchen floor.

Kid eating apple

There's a reason we grow apples, it's not just about the spring blossom or the bees they bring in or even the growing of our own fruit. It is simply about the joy of eating a fruit that you know has not been sprayed with every pesticide under the sun. We know big agriculture have to meet a need but surely as a nation that wants to plant more trees to help with climate change we should be planting more local orchards so communities can benefit? I have told Carol that the new greenhouse garden we are building will have more fruit. 'No more apples, please,' she says and we agree on step-over pears as the pears have been a revelation, they do not compare in anyway to supermarket fruit.

Woman weighing apples

In the end though, after all the weighing in and 'Oh my, do you know how heavy this is?' There is a real comforting reason why I grow apples, it is my dirty little secret. It is simply the joy of eating a real pudding in which all the fruit has come from just outside my back door. A pudding that doesn't involve climbing in a car, getting stuck in traffic, trying to find somewhere to park, nearly getting mowed down by someone with a death wish trolley in the supermarket, and then the inevitable angry argument in the freezer aisle. A pudding that doesn't involve added E numbers and sugar substitutes that looks great on the package photo but when decanted onto a plate looks like the last kid to be picked to do sports. I don't want that, life is short, too short for some and when I am gone the apple trees that I planted will carry on, and someone will sit beneath them, collect the apples and make their own puddings.

Apple crumble

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