Apple gluts

Never before have we had so many apples.

We have munched. We have stewed, we have baked. We have snuck baskets of fruit into every passing neighbour’s car.

But there comes a time when you have to decide what on earth to do with so many bushels of autumn bliss.

The horses do not need to eat them all. The hornets and wasps have too much with the sweet grapes to even make a dent in the crop. And I don’t even think the badgers and foxes have made much inroad from the ones that have fallen off the trees.

Thank you, thank you damp Spring. And the flowering blossom which escaped the hard, late frost.

No figs this year. But the apples are incredible.

All hail our neighbour Solène who proposed we combined our crops to get them juiced. There were so many apples around here that the pressing factory (sorry, I have lost its name) set the limit to 200 kgs per load because they were inundated with requests.

Our other neighbour Monsieur Perrochon was going to be pressing 450kgs from just a few trees, so Solène took advantage of his van offer and we snuck in.

Total from our mountain harvest with just one other farm, 91 bottles. Here is a sample of our ‘stash’.


Never before have we had our own bottled juice from the farm. So if all goes well, this could be the start of something marvellous.

The Melrose apple tree in the orchard is only a baby. Just …

I had to check. Cue a scroll back through the Orchard file all with all its distractions. It’s not a baby at all.

It was a gift from our friends Fenning and Gillie back in 2009.

So in normal orchard years that is a long time before a tree will produce an abundance of fruit. But this is not a gentle climate.

It has been a fine tree for years. But this is the first time it has really fruited like mad.

So that is going to be the solution for our glut.

And next week we have another slot booked for the press. We are going to combine the big juicy flavour of the Melrose, which we didn’t pick, with our wild apples from the crab apples on the lower terraces. And this beauty I found up near our source.

It’s too high to pick, so we will shake the branches and collect all the fallen fruit just the day before the pressing. Tart from the wild, sweet from the Scottish breed. I’m excited to see the results.

But just so you know it’s not all swanning about picking fruit from trees and ambling back to bake a pie…

Only Lisa, the other true sufferer from the harvest mite, chigger, aoûtats affliction, will attest…I paid dearly for my foray in the forest to look for fruit.

Covered in bites. Head to crease. Neck to knee. And even ankles and tops of toes. Agonies. Itching like mad. I dread going out.

I fear even the cat is scratching.

And no. It’s not fleas. We have never ‘enjoyed’ those itchies around here.

Solène’s kittens do have fleas. Here are hers. I don’t even dare walk around the forest path to her home to cuddle these unbelievable beauties.

(And I am posting these as she has announced that these can be yours to take home in a few weeks time when they have grown a bit more. Their resident cat evades capture and Vet. And produces beauties like these way too frequently.)

The Creature is positively lumbering and wonky in comparison to the big-eared long-haired fluffiness of La Charèyre cats.

But The Creature chose us and who are we to notice her less appealing beauty. She is a part-time cat and delighted to have us. Even when we go away for days on end to London and abandon her to the mercy of kind neighbours.

And even when we go for a walk and she is not permitted to follow. (Bribed with cat food the nanosecond before we sneak away in case you were wondering how we head off down the road without seeing her behind us, tail up, waddling along with delight, wanting to play.)

I need to go for a walk in a bit. But curse this mountain setting. There is no place that does not have an overhanging tree with mites just waiting to drop on the unsuspecting passer-by.

Until we find a cure that doesn’t involve antihistamine, lots of booze to distract oneself from the mad itch, roll neck tops even when it’s warm, I give you another shot of the delicious glut.