When we have an Indian summer, autumn seems to be brief but beautiful. This is especially true if there has been more sunshine than rain, which turns the golden leaves into an inevitable muddy pulp.
Lots of Lovely Leaves
We always enjoy this time of year; both our children have their birthdays in this season and we all like to get outdoors for long chilly walks. A favourite place of mine is Rufus Stone in the New Forest, where towering beech trees shed their bronzed leaves on top of the ancient mossy floor. Some of these wizened trees may even have witnessed the death of King Rufus (William 2), his breast pierced by an arrow as he hunted deer near this spot.
Rufus Stone - Stunning Beech Trees Just Imagine How Big That Fallen Giant Was
·Chestnuts – Still falling in some places but the season will be short this year. Roast them in the oven or better still on an open fire. Chestnuts don’t keep well unless you freeze them. Don’t forget to slit the skins first.
·Apples – Some still on the trees. Later, more firm varieties will keep better through the winter. Store un-bruised, firm apples in a cool place like a shed or outhouse; they must be kept not touching. Wrapping them with newspaper in greengrocers boxes will suffice. Some varieties will keep through winter. Eat/cook the softer earlier fruit first. Turning them into cider preserves them well – until you drink it…
The Hedge End Hidden Orchard Apple Matrix
·Pears – Mostly finished now. Pears do not keep as well as apples, although I still have a few which taste good. It’s normally best to bottle or stew pears – or turn them into perry.
A Bucket Full of Itchen River Pears
·Walnuts – Last year we got 16 Kgs but we were not so lucky this year. You need to be on your toes as they tend to drop all at once and children love collecting them off the streets. They will keep well, as long as you make sure they are kept dry. Hang them in string bags or nets to allow ventilation.
Let's Get Cracking
·Hazelnuts – We had a huge amount this year, thanks to the timely intervention of a storm. Hazelnuts keep well, if dried thoroughly and stored in a similar way to walnuts.
Nuts Oh Hazelnuts!
·Blackberries – Lore has it that you should never pick blackberries after the feast of St. Michaelmas (29th of September). This is because the Devil has spat on them! Apparently, when St Michael cast Lucifer down, he landed in a bramble bush, which scratched him (as they do) he was so cross that he cursed, stamped and spat on them. Traditionally you can eat a goose on this day instead and maybe stuff it with your freshly picked chestnuts.
Darn Those Brambles
·Quince – I have included this golden apple because the kind Vicar of Swaythling Parish invited us to gather the remainder from his garden. We will be donating them to Grandma I expect, who will turn them into something tasty soon.
·Sloes – Traditionally, you pick these after the first frost; so I’m saving them for my winter section. Otherwise I will have very little to talk about…