If you were to walk through the side door of our cottage, you’d be treated to the fresh aroma of apples, this week. Gentle, sweet and reassuring. This is autumn. Crates of squashes and apples sit side by side, waiting for their turn to be emptied and transformed into something scrumptious in the kitchen. Tomatoes and peppers lined up ready to be squeezed into jars of pasta sauce. Bake one, preserve two is my constant mantra, as I work my way steadily through each box.
Our Apple Day
This weekend, we had our apple day. I’ve been picking up windfalls for weeks, but it was time to bring all the apples in. One of my favourite times of the season.
It happens every year. I can rely on everyone groaning and dreaming up reasons to be elsewhere, but in the end, they always join me. Pushing wheelbarrows, cutting down the fruit high up and gathering up those that escape and fall. I will never tire of hearing the laughter and fun they have together. I know they love joining in really.
Of course, we’re down by one this year, with Eldest Teen off at university. We missed you, little one.
I reminded my helpers about how one year, when they were very little, I put cycle helmets on them. The idea was to protect their heads from the falling apples and low branches, as they scooped up the ones below the trees.
To be honest, the helmets were more of a hinderance and it soon became more efficient to pause picking while the smallest of us ducked under the boughs. The odd head bump from the branches and they soon learnt to avoid it. It wasn’t a problem.
Now the younger two are both taller than me. They took it in turns to use the long picker to grab the apples up high. It became a contest to catch the escaping fruit in a small crate as the apples ricocheted off and down the branches. Like a big scale bagatelle. Never quite sure which path it would take and where it would land. I missed most of mine, but others seemed to have more luck.
Hero the hound kept himself a safe distance away. I don’t blame him. Human tomfoolery is a constant puzzle to him. Especially when it comes to flying apples.
I noticed that the wasps were few and ladybirds were many. As we disturbed the tree, their little flying bodies hit us on a regular basis. Especially noticeable when they flung themselves at our faces. Or probably more accurately, when our faces got in their flight path. I don’t think we’ve had that before. Not so many.
What I’m making
So apples are in. It’s a lighter harvest than usual, but I’m happy with the amount. Our sweet apples for juicing failed this year. They flower early and the weather wasn’t favourable, but the cookers did well, so I have plenty for various pie fillers that will be canned over this weekend. I’ll also make a batch of sweet mincemeat ready for Christmas too.
The last couple of days I’ve been making mini apple and custard pies for the freezer. They are so useful and popular over the winter when we need a quick pudding or snack. Easy to defrost the right number for whoever is home, and heat them up in the Aga. Serve with a dollop of ice cream.
Homemade pastry is leaps and bounds more delicious than the shop bought version. All of it is low food miles and less plastic waste. Perfect. This is my kind of convenience food. My future self will be thanking me.
Apple Day in the UK is on 21st October, although some farms are earlier. It’s worth looking around to see if there is a local farm that’s having an event. One day I’ll make it to one, but for the moment, I’m happily dealing with my own mountain of apples!