In the Kitchen:
With an abundance of eating apples in the garden this year, I couldn’t bear to see them go to waste so we made apple juice and cider with the bulk of the crop. Making cider for the first time has been interesting. It’s very easy to make what they call ‘wild cider’ which means you don’t do much with it at all. No additives are added to it and it’s actually come out surprisingly well for a first attempt. (Cider making specialists may disagree!) There are other methods to make home-made cider and a good site to go to is www.offgrid.com
Another good use for eating apples is to stew them. I made an apple compote which is delicious eaten hot or cold with cream, ice cream or greek yoghurt. You can make many other puddings with eating apples, such as apple crumble or a tarte tatin for example but you do have to add a little water to the pan when you’re cooking the apples. This is because they don’t contain as much water as cooking apples, so retain more of their texture.
The juice of crab apples is called verjuice and very acidic and can be used as a replacement for vinegar or lemon.
Another good reason to grow an apple tree, or other fruit trees, is to avoid the fungicide and pesticide sprays that are used on commercially grown apples. Although slightly out of date, a 2015 Greenpeace survey found 83 % of apples of 109 apples in European supermarkets, had one or more pesticides on them. Also alarmingly 14 % contained an organaphosphate nerve agent, chlorpyrifos.
Loss of varieties
There are only a handful of varieties of eating apples available in the supermarkets now. It’s sad to think 1000s of varieties may have been lost, possibly forever. I remember going as a child to a farm shop to buy apples where there were at least ten or more varieties, like Pippins and Russets. The farm we visited in East Sussex is still going strong, but now growing apples solely for cider making, as it’s more profitable for them.
On a more positive note, some growers and nurseries are trying to revive old varieties and keep old orchards going. I have no idea what variety of apples trees we have in our garden. Could they be a rare or unusual ones? I don’t know. This horticultural knowledge is at risk of disappearing along with our wide range of apple varieties.
Crab apples are an ancient native species found normally in hedgerows. They are our only native apple. Other apple varieties were introduced by the Romans. It is very important for wildlife, a larval food plant for the chestnut brown moth and many others.
Crab apples trees have lovely blossom important for bees and pollinators and the birds eat the apples. David Goulson advises that it is one of his top trees to plant for birds in his book “The Garden Jungle”,
Thanks Julia, that is really interesting. For those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have apples in our gardens, how can we enjoy local apples?
We don’t yet have any community orchards in Seaford, but hopefully there soon will be..
Friends of Sutton Downs, are working with Lewes District Council, SEA and local groups to develop a “Growing Project” in the grounds of the Downs Leisure Centre which will include hedgerows, trees, a community orchard and vegetable growing area. They have a community tree planting event coming up on 21st November.
Vertical Horizon aim to green urban green spaces, such as walls and fences with edible plants and fruit and nut trees using permaculture food forest designs and methods. Apples and pears can be trained as espaliers as a space saving way of growing fruit on a wall or fence. Their next meeting is on 9 December.
Middle Farm is worth a visit – they offer many locally grown apples in their farm shop, and many more in liquid form in their ciders and perries!
There is also wonderful community orchard at the back of the Big Park in Peacehaven.
On The Verge