I’m sure that you, like all good gardeners, have been constantly looking at the weather forecast for your local area, and this week it seems as though it’s getting colder. The trees are losing their leaves which have turned into beautiful hues of yellow, orange, rust and red.
This is the classic poem by John Keats, On Autumn:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
My wife and I have been working hard in the garden to get the last fruit into the freezer, juiced for the fridge or preserved in some way.
There are so many pears this year and they’re still on the tree, We tend to pick the ones that have fallen to the ground to make a delicious and refreshing pear juice that we keep in the fridge and drink whenever we having a meal or when we’re thirsty! The pears are simply boiled using a Mehu-Liisa juice extractor and the juice runs off, with no added sugar. It’s not too sweet and keeps for a week or two. An alternative way of preserving your pears is to halve, core and peel them when they’re still quite firm, with a little lemon juice to prevent any discolouration, and preserve them in sugared water with a vanilla pod, using Kilner jars or something similar and covering them in a large pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. They will last for ages and can be eaten in the middle of winter when you can recall the summer we’ve had.
I love quince jelly; it gives a different taste to many dishes. Most years the quinces fall to the ground and are eaten by various insects, however we always try to make quince jelly which is suitable for adding to a main course such as a Sunday roast or pork chops, or my favourite with a chunk of my favourite cheese, a stilton
We have eating apples next to our vegetable patch and, as everyone I’ve ever known, end up with far too many to know what to do with them. I will eat them fresh from the tree but I also add them to various chutneys, such as apple and pear chutney, green tomato chutney and so on. I know many friends who get a local cider producer to take their apples away and in return receive a few bottles of cider, however we don’t have any cider apple trees, yet, so can’t join the consortium.
We planted too many tomatoes this year; some were in our little greenhouse, others outside in our vegetable patch as the weather was so warm this summer. We ended up with a barrow-load! The ones that were partially ripe, so not green, have been put in bowls with a banana and have ripened perfectly, so can be eaten fresh. The green ones have been combines with apples and onions from the garden to make huge amounts of green tomato chutney. Typically two-and-a-half kilos of green tomatoes, half a kilo of apples and the same amount of onions, sultanas, brown sugar and spiced pickling vinegar. It’s worth leaving for about two to three months before you start eating it as it does mature perfectly, just in time for Christmas.
This year has been an exceptional year for grapes, a cold snap early in the year, followed by a wet spring and then a long hot summer. The wine makers in the UK are expecting an exceptional vintage. We’ve had a huge number of grapes and have eaten them off the vine for a while now. Having said that, the juicer has been put to good use again and we’ve had grape juice, that’s been a perfect pink colour that can be added to water or on its own for a refreshing drink at any time of the day.
Although not a bumper year we have had some lovely Morello cherries from our only tree and preserve them in jars that have been added to the Welsh Dresser collection to eat and give away as presents throughout the winter and beyond.
My wife loves her sweet peas, and this has not been the best year for them, but she’s starting to sow her sweet peas for next year. You can sow them now or get them delivered as plugs in the spring.
There’s nothing like having your own trees and own fruit, it adds so much to a garden, however big or small. I particularly like fruit trees as you literally can see the fruit of your labour. I love the blossom of the apple and cherry trees in the spring and we’re always open to new ways of enjoying the fruits of our labour.
Lindsey and Mark