How lovely it would be if every garden had an apple tree. I've planted three small ones in mine, and another three at the allotment. I don't really have room for any more, but that doesn't stop me browsing the nursery catalogue from time to time, just to see what's on offer. There really is an apple for every taste, and if you choose carefully there are some varieties that store for months as well.
While I'm waiting for my six little apple trees to reach the stage where they give me a good sized harvest, I've been keeping my eye out for windfalls that nobody wants.
It's quite surprising how many you come across if you hunt for them. Quite often I find bags of windfalls by people's gates, being given away for free. Neglected orchards will be littered with apples slowly rotting. If I ask nicely I've found that the owners are usually happy for me to take as many as I like.
It's not a bad idea to try a bite or two of each variety and see what you're getting. Cider apples tend to be small, hard and sharp, while the biggest fruits are often cookers. If I have a choice I go for the middle-sized crisp and juicy ones, as they seem to keep a little longer, although as they're windfalls I try and use them as soon as I can as any bruising starts the decaying process.
If I'm lucky enough to have a glut, I peel and slice them, drop them into acidulated water (water plus a splash of lemon juice) to stop them browning, drain them and put them in bags in the freezer. It's one of the pleasures of the winter kitchen to have a freezer full of ready prepared fruit and vegetables to use.
My favourite apple recipe is a simple crumble. It's something I can prepare in minutes, especially when the fruit is already peeled, and it's perfect with a jug of steaming custard on a chilly autumn evening. It really is worth seeking out a few bagfuls of local apples to see you through the winter. And more than that, it's worth planting an apple tree of your own for you and for future generations to enjoy.
Thanks for reading!
Why not take a look at some of our apple recipes?