Fruity Goings On21st July 2017 • In The Garden • Stephanie Donaldson
If you have noticed a slacking in the pace of blogs, I can only apologise, but I am deep in Squirrel Nutkin mode right now, harvesting and preserving the bumper fruit crop that seems to encompass pretty well every type of fruit that we grow. Andrew has been bringing back laden baskets of gooseberries, blueberries and currants of all hues from the allotment, along with bundles of rhubarb, while in the garden the cultivated blackberries have provided regular pickings for more than a month and still have fruit to come.
Last week we spent a happy hour harvesting cherries off the tree we rent from #rentacherrytree in Northiam. We only have half an hour to travel, but one intrepid individual had come from Lake Windermere – clearly it was more about the experience than the economics.
This week is all about apricots that have cropped phenomenally well on our Flavourcot tree in the garden. The tree was so laden earlier in the summer that we were concerned that the branches might break, so we thinned them quite drastically and we have really reaped the benefits with far bigger fruit than in previous years. I have checked and confirmed that apricots continue to ripen off the tree – provided they already have good colour – so we have picked the ripest half of the crop in case the storms that are forecast reach here and damage the laden tree. So far we have picked over 10 kilograms of fruit, with the same to come.
Of course it’s not just the picking – once we have had our fill of clafoutis and fruit tarts, there’s the preserving to do as well. We are not jam eaters, so other than some redcurrant jelly, most of the berries get frozen as they are, to be used during winter in crumbles, fruit tarts and cakes. Personally, I don’t think that cherries and apricots freeze all that well as whole fruit, so I make fruit compote from them to eat with our breakfast muesli. The cherries are a sweet variety (Colney) and need something with acidity to be added to them when they are cooked, so I mix them with apricots or blackcurrants, plus some lemon juice and as little sugar as possible. I wish I was a more competent bottler, but although I find bottle a mean tomato, fruit isn’t as successful unless alcohol is involved – and that’s not really an option for breakfast! The compote gets frozen in 500 gram pots and with both our freezers already filled to bursting, another one is being delivered this week so that Squirrel Nutkin can continue the good work.