Food for free on the village plot
The book tells how, in Sutton upon Derwent, just five miles from here, farm workers would seek out self sown hedgerow apple trees and graft onto them with culinary regional varieties. A few years later they would walk the fields and collect apples to feed their families. Yorkshire countrymen would eat fresh local apples in every single month of the year.
Alas, not any more. Seaton Ross village plot has ten apple trees, each perhaps 60 years old and now somewhat neglected. Each year they drop delicious, sweet eating-apples onto the un-mown grass. Some are flawed with scab and other ‘skin deep’ disorders. They are unlikely to keep beyond Christmas. Sadly, other than myself, no one bothers to help themselves! Villagers would rather buy unblemished, sprayed, waxed and often imported expensive apples at the superstore! My free apples on the plot could be described as completely organic!
The good, the bad and the ugly.
We won’t be eating these but our neighbour’s rheas will love them
Each time I work on the plot between October and December, I take my trug and return home with apples. Brenda makes lovely pies, crumbles and tarts. Some apples are eaten fresh, used chopped in salads and even find their way into the Christmas mincemeat.
This still leaves loads to freeze for the rest of the year. Brenda tells me it so easy to preserve apples that it’s not worth recording. Easy for some, a great mystery to me!
The apples are peeled and segmented. They aren’t cooking apples, they are ‘eaters’ and do not require sugar. In contrast, I do grow a few Bramleys at home and these are sugared when newly picked, but after a few weeks in ‘cold store’ - an open cardboard box in the garage - they too, are sufficiently ripe to not need sugar. Brenda tells me that in many countries ‘cooking apples’ are not grouped as a distinct class. The Northern Pomona tells you the subtle distinct culinary uses of individual varieties.
And yes, preserving apples is easy. The peeled apples are reduced to a puree in the microwave oven, go into recycled Chinese takeaway tubs and, after cooling, go straight to the freezer. Just like the tomatoes in this post.
This ornamental crab apple, ‘Golden Hornet’ enriches the village plot. The apples could be eaten, but I prefer their beauty!