A fine spring when apple trees were in blossom and insects were busy pollinating, followed by plenty of rain to help the fruit swell has led to a bumper harvest this year. And don’t I know it.
I have a fairly old apple tree at the bottom of my garden that’s groaning with apples. So many, in fact, that I’m a little overwhelmed.
Many of the fruits have already fallen from the tree before I’ve had a chance to get the ladder out to pick them. And while I’ve cooked up a few of the less bruised ones for apple sauce, there are only so many bags of pureed fruit that will fit in my freezer. Besides, I still have tons of the stuff from last year.
I also have a clutch of raspberry canes and two damson trees, and these also produced a glut of fruit. I managed to keep up with the raspberries and eat them before they went bad, but, to my shame, many of the damsons went to waste.
Of course, I could go all Women’s Institute and start baking crumbles and tarts, and making jam to give away at Christmas, but no one seemed to appreciate my efforts when I did that a few years ago.
In years past, I’ve given away half my harvest to friends and family, and I’ll be doing that again this year. I’m also contemplating putting a box of them out on the street for passers-by to help themselves, but fear this may attract foxes – or worse, rats.
So what’s one to do?
Apparently, in California, where a colleague grew up, the neighbours all get together and exchange fruit, but that would actually only exasperate my problem.
Another colleague’s friend has taken his apples to a farm on the Buckinghamshire/Oxfordshire border that offers a juicing service where the fruits are pressed, pasteurised and bottled. The pulp is then fed to the farm’s sheep and local cattle.
It also offers to press apples, without pasteurising the juice, into a fermentation vessel for customers to brew their own cider at home.
Being something of a cider drinker, this naturally piqued my interest. Looking for a similar scheme in London, I’ve found one where I can donate my apples and get 50% of the juice or cider that’s made from them. And I don’t even have to risk blowing up my house in the brewing process.
Cheers to that.
Have you had a bumper fruit crop this year? What are you doing with your harvest?