Our earlier-fruiting crab apple tree was almost bent double under the weight of fruit this year. We picked the fruit slightly unripe to relieve the tree, and ended up getting over 25kg of apples! So far we have boiled the fruit and strained it through a jelly bag so we get only the juice and not the sour, bitter pulp. The pulp's now on the compost heap, and the juice will be turned into jelly, syrup and all manner of delicious things. You can see the colour of the juice is a really pretty pink colour. Although crab apples are quite sour and you wouldn't really wanna eat them, the juice is delicious when sweetened and processing them fills the house with their lovely fragrance.
Pabi Bach and I went on a long forage earlier this week to check our favourite damson, sloe and blackberry spots. None of the fruit is ripe yet! The sloes are blue and just beginning to turn, the damsons are hard as bullets and the ripest wild blackberries we could find were just turning red! Our domesticated bramble has already yielded a few sour fruits but it looks like Grandad John was right when he prophesised that the blackberries would be late this year... it was a lovely walk though, and Pabi found some elderberries - not so good for jam (they have absolutely NO pectin in them at all) but fabulous for homebrew...
The ivy is near to flowering. Pabi and I found 4 different varieties in one small stretch of woodland on our walk. Ivy flowers are a crucial autumn feed source for the bees.
We also took Dad to pick some more mirabelles. They're nearly finished now, although there are some real whoppers on the higher branches, shame we couldn't reach them... but anyway, Dad has worked really hard and today he made Mirabelle Cheese (like a really thick jam) and Mirabelle chutney. The whole house smells wonderfully of vinegar and spices now! Both the cheese and chutney began life as Mirabelle juice and pulp (fruits boiled and then sieved) with sugar, and then we just varied the ingredients, adding cider vinegar, an onion, and 1/4 tsp each of crushed allspice berries, mustard seeds, ground ginger, and grated nutmeg.
Pabi and I are off on holiday this week, but when we get back hopefully the sloes and damsons will be lovely and ripe...as long as the farmer doesn't (brutally and destructively) flail the hedgerows before we get home!