Monday, 11 November 2019

Mulberry Tinted Cider

The first batch of this year's cider is being bottled. This time, as an experiment I added some Mulberries and Blackberries to a couple of gallons. I'm happy to report that he result was a resounding success; the drink not only tastes superb, the fruit sugars have taken the edge off the sharpness and added subtle flavours. Also, as a bonus, it also looks rather splendid too!

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Apples, Pears, Grapes & Walnuts

It has been a very wet and very busy October. We have processed about 300kgs of apples. I needed a faster way to chop them on my own and a stainless steel Spear & Jackson did the job perfectly!
Gallons and gallons of delicious juice has been produced, some has been Pasteurised for later, some has been turning into cider and lots has been glugged back straight from the press by keen, thirsty workers.
Apple Day at Mansbridge Community Orchard was delayed by stormy weather but we delivered the following week and a gang of curious local kids and adults came out to help, which is what it is all about. We had wheelbarrows full of apples, boxes of pears and even had a bucket load of grapes to press.
The grapes produced a gallon of juice, which is now fermenting into red wine along with my cider and various other alchemical concoctions. We have also been collecting lots of Walnuts, to go with our Hazelnuts; there is a huge tree in Mansbridge, near the orchard. It has delivered a fantastic crop this year, most of which is lying on the green waiting to be gathered or gobbled by hungry squirrels.
My Apple Store is now completely filled to bursting and this should keep us in fruit through the winter, with a little luck. Unblemished Apples will keep for many months if stored in a cool dark place. They should not be left touching each other, so that if one goes bad, it will not affect the others and can be easily removed.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Apple Day at Mansbridge Community Orchard

The excitement is building, Apple Day is upon us once again!
Apple Pressing Day Sun 13th Oct 2019 2-4pm with Southampton Woodcraft Folk , Transition Southampton and Alan Gibson at Mansbridge Community Orchard (Southampton). 
All welcome, all ages! 
Bring a flask of tea, cake and refreshments.
Meet by the playground at the end of Octavia Road. 
If driving, park by the Swan Inn. 
Wear appropriate clothing for the weather, and for clambering about in woodland and/or operating apple presses or chopping apples. 
Bring a cup for sampling the deliciously fresh Apple Juice! 
Also you could bring any apples from home to add to the pressing.
Weather disclaimer - if it is really REALLY horrible, we'll put it off until the 20th - watch this space
Meanwhile, my shed is filled with 115kgs of apples that we picked last weekend - the press is working overtime - 5 gallons of juice has already been processed and two gallons of cider is fermenting nicely!

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Apples, Apples, Apples Apples, = Juice, Juice, Juice!

Apples, Apples, Apples, Apples, Juice, Juice, Juice!
It's finally that time of year again folks. 

We, well my son and I, have been collecting apples from all manner of trees for the last couple of weeks and building up a good stock for our family Apple day. Sometime, there are a few pears to chuck in, to add some extra sweetness to the mix. 
It's always difficult to say precisely when it will occur because the weather can be fickle. It tends to be an outdoor event, normally followed by a BBQ. Although we have done it under umbrellas, a borrowed gazebo and once even based in our shed.
As a result, invites inevitably go out at the last minute and many people will already have other things to do. However, I personally always enjoy not knowing who will turn up and when they might arrive. I simply get on with setting everything up, processing what we have and dealing with the vast amounts of delicious juice that we produce.
After our family Apple day, we have the Community Orchard Public Apple Day and then that is normally it for the year. Although, this year there may be some extra surprises. The press is thoroughly hosed down and stored until the next year; it is a beast of a thing and is constantly taking up space in my shed but it's well worth the inconvenience.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Summer Fades to Autumn

Blackberries are currently available all over the place and did yo know that the sweetest fruit will be found on the South side of the bushes, due to the direction of the sun (in the Northern hemisphere). So this means it is, in theory, possible to navigate by taste!
Mulberries are also ripening nicely too.
It looks like it will be a very good year for Apples and Pears and people tell me that they are falling early in their gardens. Personally I like to wait until late September / October because they always get fatter and sweeter as time goes by. Walnuts will be ready around the same time as the Apples and Pears. Plums, in many different colours, are still available now.
However, the end of the school holidays has always meant to me that Hazelnuts are ripe and falling. I have been gathering pockets full during my lunch hour and transporting them home in my sandwich box, to store in a wicker basket for later use. I keep some at work as a snack and smash them open with whatever I find to hand, when I desire a nibble.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Plumb Line

Around this time of year, you might find subtle clues as to the location of highly forage-able fruit, such as Wild Plums, Mirabelles, Damsons, Cherry Plumbs & Greengages.
These tasty plumbs are best eaten straight off the tree. Although they come in many varieties and colours, you can tell they a ripe when they will fall lightly into your hand, just as you touch them.
Quite apart from the juicy joy of immediately eating these beauties, they can also be turned into pies, chutney, wine, puddings, jam and hundreds of other delightful things.
I tend to eat as I go along during my lunchtime wanderings, then I pick a bunch and take them home for the family to enjoy.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Ruby Red Race

At the allotment, everything is growing like crazy, including the weeds. I have been focusing on gathering our growing hoards of soft fruits. The Strawberries have provided us with a great crop. the Red Currants have also had a good year and I have deployed nets to thwart the birds.
Our Summer Raspberries are going great guns; the superbly tangy Loganberries (a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry), which I planted last year are ripe right now. The juicy, sweet Tayberries, a slightly different cross between a blackberry and a raspberry are just ripening too.

It's like a delicious red race and there is so much bounty and so little time that I tend to simply pick as much as I can of everything and lob it all in the same box (or my mouth). Those that make it home are made into family favourites Clafoutis or Summer Pudding!

Cherries in our garden are also ripening on the trees and it is always tempting to eat them early when they are red but it is better to wait until they turn black, as long as you can keep the avian hoards at bay.
This year, at the allotment, I decided to create a wild-flower garden patch by collecting seeds from poppies, cornflowers and other things that took my fancy last year. It has been a real success and is already looking absolutely lovely.