That time of year again

Every year some friends generously allow us to go and collect apples from the old trees behind their house. The trees are tall and there’s always fun and games with a long pole to knock the apples off – they are simply too high up to pick by hand. Every year I completely forget to take photographs, and 2021 is no exception. Anyway, the apples end up a little bumped, but since they are cookers and I process them quite quickly, this is not a problem. The upshot is that every year in late September or October, I end up with a big tub full of apples and several days of work to convert them into a product that will be useable through the coming year. This seasonI have decided that the majority will be stewed and bottled, plus some used for sweet hot chilli sauce. Some years I make lots of juice, but we haven’t been drinking it much lately, so that is not my current priority. Of course, the abundance means that there is lots of opportunity for apple cakes, crumbles and pies, and today we indulged and had them with waffles and cream for brunch.

This old-fashioned approach to storing the the glut and not having to rely on what’s in the shops at any given time of year feels very much like rebellion – a quiet protest against the food system that most of us find ourselves unavoidably bound to. I love the seasonality of harvesting food; I love making use of local produce and exploring inventive ways to preserve it and value it; I love a cupboard full of sealed jars, squirrelled away for use during less productive seasons; and I love the kindness of those who share their bounty freely.

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18 Comments

  1. Sounds like fun picking apples (maybe photos in 2022?) and a lot of hard work making your preserves – but therapeutic, probably. Apple crumble….mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

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  2. I can’t remember – did you end up getting a pressure canner to make the processing a little less arduous? Plus, of course, they let you store all kinds of unlikely things like low acidity vegetables, meat and fish…

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  3. Going Batty in Wales

     /  October 10, 2021

    I love opening a jar of preserves in winter and finding it has stored memories too! Of picking the fruit or the person who gave it to me or just the making of whatever. And for those of us without a supermarket on our doorsteps it saves a lot of driving but if I lived in a town I would still do it because, as you say, it frees me from the tyranny of the giants. And usually most of the ingredients are free!

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  4. Oh, excellent! Apple season is one of my favorite times of year. As your pictures illustrate, so many delicious things to do with apples.

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  5. My mother was a great one for bottling and pickling.

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  6. I haven’t tried to bottle stewed apple before, better than freezing in the long run. Do you cold store apples as well? I have fond memories of my gran’s attic full of apples.

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  7. Thanks for the inspiration. We’ve just been promised a delivery of cookers from the farmhouse down the road.

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  8. I haven’t had much luck with bottling – is there a particular way to sterilise the jars – mine have gone mouldy.

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    • I only use preserving jars – over the years I have built up a big collection. I sterlilise the jars in the oven – put them in cold, turn the oven to 140C and leave them in to get thoroughly hot. I put hot apple in the hot jars, put on the lids, then they go in a water bath, where they simmer for 20 minutes. Once they come out, they cool down and the lids seal themselves. It almost always works!

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  9. I’ve never bottled anything – made the odd strawberry sauce and marmalade but mostly easy things that don’t get stored. And of late lost the mojo for even baking from scratch…

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  10. Hear, hear! (Or is it here, here?) Anyway, it is great that you have this opportunity to pick apples and preserve them – good for you and in the fight against our current food system.

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