The nashis ripened a lot quicker than I was expecting. They were ripe in late January, early February. From my reading on the internet, I was expecting March. The birds gave me the hint by digging in. This is a good way to find out if your fruit is ripe, but does mean you sacrifice some fruit.
The nashis were delicious - very juicy. One tree, they were quite small but these trees had no thinning done. Next season I will do some thinning to get bigger fruit.
We ate a lot of the nashis fresh and I also preserved some. I used the pressure cooker method. I peeled and cut them up, put the pieces into 500ml jars, filled them with a hot sugar syrup and then pressure cooked them four at a time in the pressure cooker. I half fill the pressure cooker with water, put in the jars, get it up to pressure and I can put the timer on the ring to keep it at pressure for 15 minutes before it automatically turns it off.
The other pears ripened much later in April. We have three different type of pear trees. We ate many of pears fresh and preserved some, again using the pressure cooker method. I don't do many jars of each fruit because they only have to last until the fruit starts again next season. I don't want to get sick of any of our fruit types.
I did make a couple of 500ml jars of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Mustard pears from his Fruit Everyday recipe book. This is a great book for new ideas of using up your fruit. We did try quite a few of the recipes as our fruit ripened and we had made all the usual recipes.
Mustard pears are quite easy to make. The hardest part is judging how much liquid you will need to cover the pears. I made too much and have a jar of the liquid as well.
Apples can be difficult to tell when they are ripe. We kept trying apples off the trees from January. we found the apples could be very tasty even when they are not quite ripe. We also used them in muffins and other dishes before some of the varieties were properly ripe. Once fully ripened, I have tried preserving some jars of apple pulp, again using the preserving method but cooking the apple down first. It will be interesting to see if these work. I haven't opened a jar yet.
We have a couple of Sir Prize apple trees. When the fruit were ripe they were not crisp but floury, easily bruised and not very nice to eat fresh. But these apples are amazing cooked up. I just peel them and then use one of those plastic round slicers to cut them into eight pieces and core them. I fill a large pot with all the pieces, add a small amount of water to stop the bottom ones sticking and let them cook down on the stove, stirring occasionally. They will cook down to about half the original amount. These apples don't need any added sugar (my hands get sticky peeling and slicing them) and they make the most delicious pulp. It doesn't last long in the fridge, despite how big a pot I make of it.We eat this pulp on breakfast, pancakes, use it in crumbles, with yoghurt - the kids would just eat it all in spoonfuls if they could.
The apple and pear season lasted several months through April, May and into June. The quinces started ripening in late April.
The ease of picking fruit and the number of fruit trees we have, is making me work towards the goal of pruning our trees so they are not more than 2 metres high. This should make all fruit collecting easier. We do have a fruit picking ladder and it is great but I notice I use the most fruit from the trees I can easily pick at any time, without needing to collect extra equipment. Currently our Sir Prize apple tree still has apples higher up that I couldn't reach.
We keep a selection of baskets in our kitchen. We have black plastic shopping baskets and some cane baskets. It is useful having a selection and different sizes for taking out to collect the fruit at any time. The baskets can then sit in the kitchen as we deal with the fruit.
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