Appetite 64 – September/October 2021

Fruits of our labour

This month, the editor is mostly wondering what to do with her apple crop

I am awash with apples, dear reader, our little trees at the bottom of the garden having suddenly gone into a spin and produced thousands of the things, after two bleak years when I began to wonder if they were on their last legs. 

Of course I am beyond grateful for this abundance of free food, but I’m also daunted. After all, where am I supposed to find the time to carefully wrap each one in brown paper and layer painstakingly in boxes for garage storage, which is an entirely vain pursuit anyway, because half of them will rot and half will be snaffled by the mice. I’m more likely to lightly stew and freeze, but I’ve still got the remains of last year’s haul from a friend’s trees in the freezer and there is only so much space to be had in there.

This leads me to an obvious conclusion – I’m going to have to make apple wine. This, Google tells me, is very easy; all the kit I need is a demijohn (actually, looking at the harvest on my hands, several demijohns), fermenting buckets (I assume these are just, well, buckets?), a big pan, a syphon, a straining bag, a potato masher, and an airlock and bung (which sounds more nautical than vinificatory, but there we are, I am here to learn, after all).

Having said that, my memories of my father’s wine-making exploits in the late 1970s sound major warning bells. I don’t recall the technicalities of the matter, but I do remember a lot of strange smells and noises (him and
the wine) emanating from the box room,
where what I think he imagined would be a relaxing and satisfying pursuit was actually rather a struggle. 

The result was suspiciously cloudy and barely drinkable, and after a couple of years, the demijohns disappeared, to be replaced with boxes of nice, safe shop-bought wine, made by people who knew what they were doing. Hmmmm… maybe I’ll get into chutney making instead. Or apple jam (is that a thing?). Pickled apples? 

Hang on, what about cider? Now there’s an idea… surely that can’t be too
difficult, can it?

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