Midsummer in the Orchard

 

Sour cherries, many, many sour cherries…,

stoned on site and bottled by evening:

# Red Wine Syrup for Preserving

# Cherry Liqueur

# Country Tart with Cherries

# Creme Fraiche Waffles with Red Wine Cherries

# Superstreuselkuchen

Red Wine Preserving Syrup

Quince, coffee and cardamom

One of many ways of getting through the winter: cake!

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Our firm winter favourite: Winter Fruit and Spice Cake knows many variations and never fails to please the punters when it comes to “Kaffee und Kuchen” on a winter weekend. Currently trending here when it comes to coffee and cake is this year’s Quince, Cardamom and Coffee version.

Use the recipe in the link with quince puree and substitute instant coffee powder for cinnamon (or use both if you prefer).

Lass es Euch schmecken! ( = Enjoy!)

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Requiem for a Kaiser

Just days after our “Ode to Summer” came the first of the autumn storms, and the Kaiser was down:

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Of the variety “Kaiser Wilhelm”, a chance discovery on an estate in Germany in 1864 and named after the German Kaiser Wilhelm 1, this was one of our three “Kaiser Wilhems” and one of the most prominent trees in our orchard.

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A prevailing feature in our orchard landscape whatever the season:

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He was also one of our high performance trees – 360 kg of apples in any given year was the norm, as was the case this year in what was to be his last harvest, and despite his age:

A variety known for its longevity, we estimate that our fallen Kaiser was heading for a hundred years old when the Beaufort 10, 11 and 12 gales on the evening of 23 September 2018 proved too much, and down he went:

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The changed view with the fallen Kaiser will take some getting used to and for now he lies in peace where he fell, letting himself be explored by young hands and feet clambering over his now fallen heights: the future running its young hands over his otherwise lofty leaves and lichens.

A part of the circle of life he will remain, as his wood goes on to house and feed the myriad of other little beings that lived alongside him in the orchard.

And yes, you can get very attached to a tree 🙂

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A Summer of Superlatives

That’s what we got this year in answer to our springtime ponderings:

April warm, Mai kühl, Juni nass, füllt dem Bauer Scheuer und Fass

April warm, May cool, June wet, fills the farmer’s barn and barrel.

https://anediblelandscape.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/blossoms-bees-barns-barrels/

April was warm and frost free, May was not particularly cool and June was certainly not wet, neither was July, or August, or September… it was just hot, very hot, and very dry, for very long…

Yet the fruit harvest in Franconia’s orchards is a recordbreaker this year (and about three weeks ahead of “normal” ripening times).

But what does that actually mean in these times of far removed mass plastic food production? Who can picture what a “record harvest” might look like?

Let’s have a go.

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Here in Bavaria’s main plum growing area it means : 400 tonnes more plums than usual.

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Here in our district the fruit presses have stopped taking apple deliveries because they are overloaded…

Narrowing it down to facts and figures based on our 2 hectare traditional (i.e. non-plantation) orchard:

8kg redcurrants, 10 kg sour cherries, 10kg nectarines, 11kg mirabelle plums, 26kg blackberries, 57 kg cherry plums, 70 kg grapes, 85 kg Switzen plums…

All of which is in fact the upper end of normal,

and then we get to the apples:

3200 kg to date with about another 1000 kg still to come off the trees. The previous record over a period of six years was 1500 kg.

Still to come are the pears and the quinces, both looking like weighing in at the upper end of normal too.

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So its the apples that have done it: more or less three times their previous record harvest!

We invested in our own stand alone fruit press this year – and not a minute too soon!

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18_08_2018 sacks filling up 18_08_18

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18_08_ waiting for the apple express

Hand-picked, processed and pasteurised by ourselves:

that takes us right back to the origins of where food – and drink – come from!

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Blossoms, Bees, Barns & Barrels

An April free of frost is what we wanted and its what we got this year, that and a lot more too!

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The warmest April for ten years in these parts has had the orchard out in its finest floral glory and – fortunately – there are still bees there to do the pollinating.

Copy (1) of Bee pollinator

Even more fortunate, albeit long overdue and not yet enough, is the news last week of the EU’s ban on the outdoor use of imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam i.e. the neonicotinoid pesticides that have had such a devastating impact on bee populations across Europe.

 

 

Back in the days before Bayer & Co, my German farmers’ almanac had this to say:

April warm, Mai kühl, Juni nass, füllt dem Bauer Scheuer und Fass

April warm, May cool, June wet, fills the farmer’s barn and barrel.

We’ve had the warm April, so now we wait to see whether  May fits the pattern or not…

 

Citrus Salts

I have been whizzing up all sorts of citrus & veggies into delectable gourmet citrus salts. So quick, so easy, and a good way to make use of small quantities of tasty things – and then you have a whole flavour bank to choose from while cooking up a storm!

What you need:

Small quantities of vegetables such as celeriac (especially forgotten celeriacs starting to dry out in the veggie basket!), parsnips, garlic (can’t have enough of it) and onions, herbs of all kinds to suit your taste.

One and twos of oranges, lemons, limes…whatever you can get your hands on, even bergamots of you are lucky enough to have them.

Relatively fine grained, pure (no additives!) salt*.

What you do:

Peel/skin and roughly chop your collection of vegetables and place them in a food processor or blender.

Add the zest of whatever citrus you are using and some of the juice if you like – not too much, though, otherwise your salt mixture will take ages to dry out again.

Add the same quantity of relatively fine pure (no additives!) salt* as you have of the other ingredients (50% salt, 50% other ingredients). Whizz everything up together until you have a fine, even mix. Spread your salt mixture out thinly on a large baking tray or similar and either leave to dry on the heating or in the oven at 50°C, with a wooden spoon holding the oven door ajar, for 2-3 hours.

Once the salt is completely dry, whizz it again in the food processor to break up any dried lumps and store in airtight glass jars.

My current combinations:

Lemon & Lime & Garlic & Celeriac Salt

Bergamot & Orange & Garlic & Celeriac & Parsley salt

Lemon & Parsnip & Parsley & Garlic Salt

being used to flavour everything from soups & salads, pastry & breads to mains & sides.

*salt: quality matters here and I prefer rock salt over sea salt, on account of us having allowed microplastic to have completely pervaded our oceans: up to 1800 microgramms of microplastic per kilogram of Fleur du Sel, for example, detected in a study published in January 2018 by scientists at the University of Oldenburg, Germany.

Bergamots

I do love to make a new discovery and proudly present my citrus discovery for January 2018:

 

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Bergamots,

and what wonderful little gems they are.

Reliably identified as the sour orange hybrid Citrus bergamia Risso,  I discovered them at my organic market this week, imported from Morrocco (this is the only time of year where I am to be found blogging about imported produce!), and I snapped them up purely out of curiosity.

 

And I am so glad I did!

“Grapefruit overtones, a spicy galangal-like punch (which calms down once cooked), as well as orange and lemon nuancing in the background, becoming lingering lime once cooked”.

That is my bergamot sound bite.

And this is what I have done with them so far: a classic soft set marmalade of delectable dimensions 🙂

 

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More Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

For those of you who do not already know it, meet:

Galangal

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Think: mild ginger with a soupcon of camphor and a peppery punch if you use lots of it!

A root related to ginger, widely used in Far Eastern cookery, and described by German medieval medicine woman Hildegard of Bingen as “warm and healing”, particularly for those suffering from “heartache”.

For those with a bad back she recommends Glühwein with galangal.

In the kitchen Hildegard of Bingen paired galangal with quinces (as well as with pumpkin, fruit salads, jams in general and marinades).

Clearly a lady after my own heart and so I have followed her example: the very last of this years’ quinces have become

Quince Jelly with Galangal

And what a very good idea that was: love it!

If you are quick you can get a jar with a subscription from our Online Orchard Shop – limited edition!

Sugar & Spice & All Things Nice

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Cardamom

A fragrantly warm winter spice – I love it and the cardamom season is getting into full swing in my house where two of our top seasonal favourites flavoured with freshly ground cardamom are:

Winter Fruit & Spice Cake

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and

The BEST Gingerbread Biscuits

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Sloe Gin Time

This post is for Chris & Debbie, gin connoisseurs of note. You know who you are!

Sloe Gin glass with copyright

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness will soon be making way for frosts and mellow indulgence: get the sloe gin going in time for you-know-what (begins with C…) 🙂

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  • Pick as many sloes as you fancy (either after the first frosts or when ripe and then freeze overnight before using – the freezing/frost breaks down the sugar in the fruit making it easier to release its flavour).
  • Prick them all over with a pin.
  • Pour a bottle of gin into a large (sterilised) jar with lid (or two large jars), add the sloes together with one (or more depending on your taste) slit vanilla pod.
  • Leave in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks (can be left for much longer too) before filtering and bottling. Will keep indefinitely and matures with age.

Cheers!