realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Category Archives: Enjoying quality fruit

Two two-fruit recipes – plum and apple crumble, apple and quince sauce

We have recently launched our new Two-Tree Orchard Pack, designed for smaller gardens and offering the same symbiotic benefits of multiple trees as offered in our Standard Orchard Pack with five trees. The two-tree idea brings to mind the many traditional recipes made using two types of fruit. Here are a few examples of recipes that we have enjoyed for many years and have become firm family favourites. If you have some two-fruit recipes that you’d like to share with us and other readers, just reply as a comment to this post, or write to us at enquiries@realenglishfruit.co.uk. And if you’re interested in growing two of your favourite fruits, take a look at our web page dedicated to the Two-Tree Orchard Pack.

PLUM AND APPLE CRUMBLE

8 oz flour
4 oz butter
2 oz sugar
Dice the apples, remove the stones from the plums, and boil them briefly. Drain and place in an oven dish. Mix the flour and butter with your fingers, until it has reached a breadcrumb-like texture. Add the sugar. Spread on top of fruit, and cook in the oven at 180°C, until the topping has reached a pale brown colour. Mmmm, this is really delicious… whether on its own or accompanied by some custard or whipped cream.
Other fruit pairs can be used. For example, apple and pear, plum and peach, apple and apricot…

Variations:
Use 2 oz of porridge oats instead of flour. Chopped nuts can also be used.

Plum and apple crumble

Plum and apple crumble, photo courtesy of Edward Kimber/flickr.com

APPLE AND QUINCE SAUCE

1 quince
4 small apples
Half a pint of cider
3 oz sugar
1 oz butter
This is a great combination of the sweetness of apples and the complex tartness of quince. The recipe was used by the monks of Ampleforth Abbey in York. Peel, core and coarsely grate the fruit. Put the grated quince in a small saucepan, pour in the cider and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until tender. Add the apple and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Stir well with a wooden spoon to make a thickish pulp. Add the sugar and cook gently until it has all dissolved. Stir well and add the butter. This sauce goes well with roast pork or goose.

The following recipe is made just with apple and other ingredients, but it’s such a wonderful and simple stuffing that we thought we’d include it.

NUTTY APPLE STUFFING

3 sticks of celery
1 green apple
3 oz of chopped nuts
1 large carrot
2 oz of butter
2 teaspoons of mixed herbs

Mince the celery, apple and carrot. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients, mixing well. Season well and use to stuff breast of lamb or duck, goose, or the neck end of a turkey.

How do you know when apples are ready to pick?

This is the time of year at which many English apples and pears are ready to pick. Many people wonder how to be sure to pick the fruit at the correct time. If picked too early the fruit will shrivel and will be lacking in flavour. If picked too late, fruit will have started dropping off the tree, because over-ripeness is often the main cause of the drop.

The best way to judge if the fruit is ready to harvest is to lift the fruit gently. If the stalk gives way and therefore easily parts from its base on the branch, then this is the first indication that harvest time has arrived. The second test is to taste the fruit. If the flavour is fully developed and the fruit is very juicy, while still nice and crisp, then you are really sure the fruit is ready to be picked.

Once harvested, to lengthen the shelf life, keep the fruit as cool as possible. The ideal temperature is approximately 4 degrees Celsius. The bottom of the fridge is about that temperature. Do not try to store fruit which is damaged, as it soon will start to rot.

Photo courtesy of WxMom/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of WxMom/flickr.com

Weekly update for the fruit garden – second week of August 2015

Apples:

Many apple trees are carrying too much fruit. To ensure that you have a crop next year, remove surplus fruit from the tree this week. Copncentrate particularly on damaged, small and green fruit in the centre of the tree. As we are in a drier spell of weather, do not let the trees go short of water, while the fruits are swelling.

Cane fruits:

Cut out the old canes of summer fruiting raspberries. Finish picking the red and black currants.

Gooseberries:

Watch out for gooseberry sawfly. These caterpillars can defoliate your gooseberry bushes within a week. Organic materials are available in the garden centres to prevent this menace.

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All fruit trees:

Net the trees if birds are pecking the fruits. If not, wasps will hollow out the fruits, such as apples, pears, plums and greengages.

 

Photo courtesy of Katherine Shann/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of Katherine Shann/flickr.com

Weekly update for cherry trees – first week of August

Now that the cherry crops have been picked, that is if spring frosts and birds did not do any major damage to your crop prospects, it is a good time to consider the size of the trees. This is the right time now to summer prune your tree(s), bringing them back to a size you can cope with. DO NOT LEAVE IT TO THE WINTER TIME. Summer pruning means cutting out surplus older wood and creating more sun and room for younger 1 to 3-year-old wood.

The greengage and the Armenian connection

Many people all over the world know the plum and consider these fruits nice to eat when mature and freshly picked. However, mention the word “greengage” and most people today have no idea of what you are talking about. And yet, as a type of plum, it is so delicate and flavourful that it is rightly considered as the most flavoursome of all the tree fruits known.

Let us compare the greengage with other fruits grown in the moderate climate zone. In a ranking of soft fruits, many would consider the raspberry to be at the top. Of all the fruits grown on trees, the greengage is rightly considered as unsurpassed in delicacy and flavour, when freshly picked and fully mature . So why are these trees and their fruits not better known? Why are these fruits, when in season, not more regularly available in modern supermarkets? Even in France and Italy it is more widely available on street markets when in season, but not in supermarket outlets.

In the UK, this special plum is known as a Greengage. If you spoke to people in Holland, for example, about this fruit, they wouldn’t know what you are talking about!

There are several reasons for this relative obscurity. One of the reasons is that this particular group of plums is only commercially success for a very small band of dedicated fruit growers, wherever they are grown. However if grown with plenty of TLC and dedication in the garden, the fruits are so special they need to be reserved for your own family and only the best of friends. If the crop is heavy, which is never the case 3 years in a row, it makes the most tasty of all jams.

Because of the quality of these fruits and my many years of experience of trying to grow these fruits, I consider it worthwhile to record my findings along with some historical background for these wonderful plums. The reader may want to skip various sections of this report. For that reason I will group the various details in a series of posts, as follows:

1) Historical background,
2) The most suitable sites for these plums,
3) Most suitable soils and their maintenance,
4) The different varieties available,
5) The essentials of growing these varieties,
6) The pruning needs of these plums,
7) Successful control of the pests and diseases.

In the photo below, greengages, photo courtesy of Rain Rabbit/flickr.com

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Choosing fruit trees

Why the correct choice of fruit tree is paramount to success

In principle, there are four fundamental factors that determine success in growing top fruit outdoors: site, soil, weather conditions and type of fruit planted. Under the heading top fruit we can place apples, pears, greengages, plums, cherries, quinces, walnuts, sweet chestnuts, hazelnuts and medlars. If you are planning to purchase and plant trees, it is essential to ensure that the trees are suitable for your area. Fruit trees will grow in most areas of the UK. However, successful growing and cropping is another matter. It is a good idea to obtain good advice to avoid disappointment. Over the next few posts I will make some basic observations based on many years of experience of working with fruit trees. This information is designed to make life easier for you when you are considering which tree or trees to plant.

In the next post: site.

Photo courtesy of WxMom/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of WxMom/flickr.com

Sealing pear stalks

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A reader writes: “Dear Dan, in Italy I saw pears sold like this, with the stalks sealed with wax. Is there a reason for this?”

Pears are best if picked slightly immature. This means that moisture loss can still occur via the stalk, once the pear is separated from the tree. Therefore with certain varieties there is the risk of shrivel of the fruit near the stalk end. Sealing the stalk may help to reduce this problem.

Top ten tips on apple storage

PaulaRed, photo courtesy of Lewis Farm Market/flickr.com

PaulaRed, photo courtesy of Lewis Farm Market/flickr.com

It has been a wonderful year for fruits to grow and mature. Above average temperatures during the early part of the growing season and plenty of moisture contributed to producing good-sized, flavoursome fruits. Apples are the easiest fruit to store. Pears can be stored successfully but only if you are able to keep the temperature as close as you can to 1 degree Celsius. Apples store well at 3 degrees Celsius. Plums, greengages, peaches and apricots are best ripened off in the kitchen and used for daily consumption or bottling.

If you’d like to start growing your own fruit, now is a good time to plan your tree layout. Make a choice from our variety list, and place a provisional order. Or contact us for more information on purchasing trees.

 

Tips on storing apples
This time of the year, remember the following if you want to store some apples for the winter months:
1) Only store fruits without holes, cracks or small patches of discoloured brown rot.
2) Pick very carefully. Handle the fruits like eggs. Bruising the fruit is as bad as a hole in the fruit.
3) Do not store over-mature fruit. These fruits won’t keep.
4) Colourless immature fruit from the centre of the tree tends to shrivel once in store.
5) The taste of the fruit must be fully developed, before it is ready to pick. Always taste the fruit first before you pick it.
6) Put the fruit on single-layer trays.
7) Keep the temperature ideally at an even level and as close as you can to 3 degrees Celsius.
8) Fruit stores best in the dark and at high humidity.
9) Make sure mice are not present where you store your fruit as they will nibble the fruit and destroy your harvest.
10) Inspect your fruit once a week and remove those fruits which ripen first and are ready to eat.

Peaches, apricots, pears, gages, a great year

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

Golden Glow, photo courtesy of coblands_plants/flickr.com

This has been a fabulous year for peaches and apricots. The flavour and the size of the fruit have been outstanding, and likewise the yield. In addition, it has been a year that has proved to me again that the disease called “peach leaf curl” is not difficult to control, even without the use of chemicals.

The apricot harvest has been completed, and, with us in Suffolk, the outdoor peaches are not quite ready yet. The flavour of the fruit is still increasing, particularly as the difference between night and day temperatures is now exceeding 10 degrees Celsius.

Young walnut trees are also beginning to crop with the help of very good quality leaf of deep colour and an open structured tree .

Pears are wonderful size. Unfortunately many little birds like to make small holes in some of the pears, which means these pears won’t keep very long. All the same, if you like to store pears, then the overriding factor is temperature. It has to be 1 degree Celsius for good results. Anything higher and the pears will ripen very quickly. Early ripening pears such as Beth and Williams are best used within days after picking. These are not suited for longer term storage.

The green gages equally have been a true delight. These do not ripen all at once and if several varieties are used , the picking time can be spread out over a period of 4 to 6 weeks depending on the season.

At Suffolk Fruit and Trees, we stock all these different varieties as young trees. However, in every season, supplies are limited and soon start tailing off. Early ordering is essential. Delivery will take place once the trees are fully dormant, as that is the time young trees transplant best. This year, this will probably mean a delivery period from late November onwards, depending on prevailing weather conditions. The varieties available are listed on this page at the website www.realenglishfruit.co.uk

Excellent crop from young trees

A customer writes: “I would like to say how pleased I was with the fruit trees that you supplied; here are some photographs of the orchard where our ducks and chickens freely wander. This year I have picked 7lb of plums from one tree and I managed to make some delicious plum jelly which my children love. The Bramley apples are doing amazing this year and are extremely heavy with fruit, plenty for my well adored blackberry and apple jelly and my apple and mint jelly.”

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