Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Through the Kitchen Window

It is a dank and dreary autumn day in the Moorlands. The leaden sky is racing and the rooks, jackdaws and the last few housemartins are tumbling through the air, blown up and down on a blustery gale. Just my sort of day. The best day for staying cosy in the kitchen and cooking up something for the cold months ahead and, along with a comforting risotto, I have apple jelly on my mind.
From my kitchen window I can see gardens up and down the road with apple trees laden with ripe fruit. When I was growing up we had the run of our elderly neighbour's beautiful orchard and in the autumn we joined in the harvest of apples, pears and damsons.

Later, my parents had a garden with three huge apple trees that are still producing cookers every autumn but they ripen very late. So it's difficult to watch the fruit from my neighbours' trees ripen and fall to the ground, simply to rot and feed the fieldfares when they come.
Typically these gardens belong to the neighbours whose gardens back onto other neighbours (who I'm afraid we don't know) and I am simply not brazen enough to bowl up and ask if I can help myself to their apples seeing as they don't appear to want them!
In the West Country there are cider clubs who collect unwanted apples from village and town gardens to press for apple juice and the headier brew, but we're not big cider makers up here so there aren't any gatherers either. We do have a community orchard that recently started at the allotments in town but those trees are a way off fruiting too.
Now I know I could just go and buy some but that seems madness, to settle for imported fruit when there are so many native varieties fruiting all around me.
But as you can see, Mother Nature has smiled on me and my need for apples.  On my way home from work yesterday I came across a whole crop of crab apples blown to ground by the gale. A little bumped and bruised they may be but for jelly making they are ideal. Gathering them up required a few minutes scrabbling about in the hedgerow but gosh it was worth it.
After an evening spent peeling, cooking and dripping I enjoyed a cosy time in the kitchen today, boiling and straining with Susan Hill for company and now I have a few jewel coloured jars of deliciousness to brighten the dark nights ahead. Hurrah for apple season.


20 comments:

Florrie said...

What a lot of gorgeous apples you managed to find........I usually manage to harvest quite a good crop of blackberrys along a dis-used railway line near my home......it's lovely when Mother Nature provides.
florrie x

Pixiedust said...

You can't beat a bit of preserving on a day like today. That apple jelly looks scrumcious. xxx

periwinkle said...

I'm so with you on the brazeness ( if that is such a word ) there are 2 apple trees right next to the nursery where Gabe goes and the apples are so red and ready for picking but they just end up rotted on the ground also - I'm very tempted to go knock at the door ??

Cathy said...

Through the Kitchen Window is one of the books that I get out at the change of each season and which makes me excited about the things to come. The Magic Apple Tree also by Susan Hill is the same only more so - have you read it? If not you must! Your jelly looks fab.

Sue said...

Pots of liquid amber and one of my favourite books ever. Lovely post Stephanie.

Sue x

Tonya said...

Every year I ask on Freecycle for fruit that would otherwise go to waste. So far I've been given plums (I met the lady at her allotment and we picked them together), green tomatoes and more apples than I could manage. Someone also emailed me to tell me the location of two damson trees dripping with fruit! I've made chutney with all of them and given jars of chutney back to the people who donated their fruit! Always worth asking :-)

Vintage Squirrel said...

Bet your neighbours would be delighted to let you pick apples as it would save them having to gather the windfalls before mowing the lawn! I have just picked some today and thought I might make apple & mint and apple and sage jelly - isn't it so satisfying?!

simplyvintage said...

what a lovely way to spend a day - especially a blustery autumn day. You do realise don't you that you have gone and got me spending money again? Just had to go and buy that book ;D (Only £2.76) from Amazon Marketplace, so can't really complain!)

Pink Milk said...

We have a crab apple tree in the garden and its boughs are weighted down with the masses of fruit this year. There were hardly any last year.

Crab apple jelly is one of my forthcoming projects - am wondering if I can hot it up with a little chilli?

I bet your neighbours would be only too pleased if you were to ask to be let loose with your bowl!!

Hx

Sweet Birdy Love said...

Hey Steph, love your description of the day, no better place to be than indoors doing something creative/productive.
If you don't want to knock on the neighbours door, how about popping a friendly little request via note into their letter box with your name and phone no.on it ?
I am sure they would appreciate the fruit being used and then they don't have to pick, rake or dispose of it. A thankyou jar or two of homemade goodies would no doubt ensure you have first dibs on the crop next year before the birds!
Give it a try, you might also make some new friends.
Enjoy your lovely Autumn.

Anne said...

BE BRAZEN. Ask about those apples. If you don't feel comfortable about asking for them for free, perhaps you could offer to buy them for a small price.
Good luck with your brazeness!! :-)

Belinda said...

Your posts are brilliant at catching the feeling of a day or season, I really enjoy reading them. Autumn - bring it on!x

carol at home said...

Have to confess that I'm very lazy about picking the apples in our garden but then I have a little bit of an excuse as there are several acres of orchard that have to be picked.

dancingbeastie said...

Your jelly looks delicious and I love your home made labels too. Beautiful evocative photos as always - is that a close-up of squeaky Savoy cabbage I see? Just lovely.

Pipany said...

Another very lovely post Steph. Reading your blog posts is like dipping into Country Living only for real. If you could just find time to post every day please!! Thanks for all the Lovely comments about Mermaid. We are very excited! x

Tabiboo said...

Hurray indeed - I think I'm going to try the other apple butter recipe this weekend, but instead of Susan Hill I think I may get a Miss Read audio book out of the library.

Nina xxx

ps. they can only say no and it's a good way to meet the neighbours....you never know. N xxx

French country furniture said...

Very lovely post, The apple is really looks fresh and crispy, and crab apple jelly is looks too tasty, i have never try before but i really want to.

miz-bag said...

hi steph i can't see anywhere that i can follow your blog.....it's beautiful!!!! love your home. I was drawn into shabby chic via cath kidston and have found many lovely blogs, I have moved on a bit and love the less contrived look nowdays espically homes that incoperate vintage finds. going to sit down with a lovely cuppa and have a good look through your blog x

chinecats said...

My tiny house is at the end of an ancient apple orchard, and I would highly recommend anyone asking to help themselves if they have neighbours with apple trees. Most of mine feed the blackbirds all winter!

Esther said...

I'm going to do some preserving today too, only I'm making tomato relish. I love looking at jars of preserves all lined up, but the colour and shine of your apple jelly beats my relish hands down.

I wish we could grow apples here but it gets too hot.