Saturday was a good day to remember gravity.
3 apple trees, 6 large crates of apples, 175 litres of the freshest, tangiest apple juice that’s ever washed over your tongue.
After experimenting with a long pole with an ingenious grabbing device at one end and a handle at the other, we worked out that the best way to persuade the old Malus domestica to relinquish its crop was to climb up and give it a good shake. I stood a safe distance away (no Isaac Newton moments for me!) and watched as the fruit of a year’s worth of sunlight, rain and pollination thudded into the wet grass. Normally I’d be up the tree, but the only sufficiently waterproof shoes available were wellies, which do not make for easy tree climbing. I know. I’ve tried.
I remember being in Crete with my family (oh, so many memories, some good, some rather painful. Sometimes I think my Dad only suggests things because he knows they’ll make good stories in the years afterwards..) The mountain sides were covered with olive trees (in the shade of which one can take one’s repose,) and the ground around them was covered with nets to catch the olives when the trees were shaken. Which goes to show that when harvesting fruit, remembering gravity will make your job a whole lot easier!
When we’d located all, or at least most, of the apples (with only a few nearly-twisted ankle along the way – wet apples hidden in long grass can be pretty hazardous!) they were loaded, in crates, into the back of a trailer, along with ten large glass demijohns, each in its own wooden frame. And off it all went to the juicer.
And back came 175 litres of cloudy, delicious Moscht. (Yes, German for apple juice is Apfelsaft. Don’t ask me how the Swiss arrived at Moscht. The battle with Swiss-German is a topic for another day.)
Juice that tastes as though it’s just fallen from the tree. A very far cry from that syrup-coloured mono-tasting liquid that comes in white-and-coloured cartons with suspicious “child-friendly” writing on the front. That stuff has a single layer of flavour that is gone as soon as swallowed, like water leaving a duck’s back, but leaving behind a curiously chemical after-taste. The fresh juice is the stereo version, with a whole palette of different tastes and aromas… ahhh, it’s like trying to compare individually-wrapped slices of burger-cheese to a block of the best West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. It feels like blasphemy even to try.
I also learned this weekend that the excitement of a shiny horse chestnut doesn’t dull with age, (although, unfortunately, the sheen on the conker does, as the possible hundreds of dullish-brown chestnuts that I used to find in various safe places in my bedroom when I was younger are testament to.) And even though I know that they don’t stay shiny forever, it doesn’t stop me from filling my pockets with them wherever I find them. Magpie? Me?
And, or course, I find the more-edible but less finger-friendly sweet chestnut hard to resist as well, although the offerings inside these hedgehog-y shells weren’t as plump as their inedible cousins.
And for my last trick..
Here are some lovely autumn colours that I’m knitting into a scarf before the winter kicks in. Hurry hurry hurry!