The Owl and The Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful 'red and white'(!) boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love, What a beautiful Pussy you are, You are, You are!What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

Edward Lear

Friday, 22 March 2013

Apples and wine


About a week ago I took this photo of the last of my apples. I usually reckon to have apples to cook with right through to March and sometimes April. I've still got a few of these left.

I have a bit of a passion for apples (amongst other things?!) Here in Devon they grow on trees, orchards full of them, all over the place, just dropping on roads and into grass and mostly rotting away. A lot of people seem to think that you need some special kind of apples to cook with, and that windfalls won't keep, and probably lots of other apple myths and fallacies.
Every autumn I collect as many apples as I can. Ideally I pick them off the trees, because yes, they do store better than damaged apples. But if windfalls are all I can get then that's what I collect. I collect sackfuls. Not like a few carrier bags full, but big potato/animal feed sackfuls, and I lay them out in single layers in as many shallow boxes or trays as I can find, preferably ones that will stack. Now that I have a larder I keep them in there, when I didn't I kept them in an unheated shed, covered them in frosty weather and tried hard to keep the mice and rats away from them! I check over them about once a month, pick out rotten ones and throw them to the birds. I also try to keep apples from different trees separate, so that I learn which ones keep best, and then next year I can use up the non keepers first. 

Towards the end of winter I cook and freeze some, but through the summer there no need for apples because there is always rhubarb then all the other wonderful soft fruits from the allotment.

And this summer I thought I'd try making wine (because I don't have enough hobbies?!)
My aunt has just moved house and downsized and cleared out lots of lovely old things, including two demo-johns and these amazing glass airlocks. They were pretty grubby and I spent some time cleaning them out with a wide variety of objects. They are NOT easy things to clean!
Glass airlock

Aren't they beautiful enough to make you want to make some wine? 
I can just hear the gentle blooping now!.........


  1. I bet you had a devil of a job with getting that air-lock clean! Do keep us posted when you start your wine-making. I wish I had access to so many free apples! But we do have rhubarb in the garden, already shooting away into the frost.

  2. More about apples please! Is that your own trees that you pick from? Our Egremont Russet keeled over the winter before last and, perhaps as a result (ie nothing to pollinate it), our Bramley had hardly any fruit last autumn. I think we need to plant another tree.

    1. Hi Lynne and Belinda,
      Yes, I resorted to drinking straws and eventually bits of gravel swizzeled around inside to get the airlocks clean. We do have one old apple tree in our garden, no idea what it is, but they don't keep very well, and I didn't have my own trees where I used to live. As I said, lots of people have trees with way more apples than they use, so I get apples from people I do gardening from, I ask for windfalls and I used to put cards in local shops asking for apples when I made cider for a few years. Pollination can be a problem, but last year a lot of trees had less apples due to bad weather at flowering time.

  3. Thank you Nina. It's so nice to hear from an expert.