Episode 77. Preserving fruits.

Hello and welcome to episode 77 of the veg grower podcast titled preserving fruit and today's date is 15 of August 2016. My names Richard and today I will be discussing recent updates on the plots and ways of preserving fruits such as apples and pears I guess hard fruits as I've already covered soft fruits.
So firstly what's been happening down the allotment. Well I've cleared lots more weeds from the beds and I'm trying to dig out the roots from the couch grass that just spreads and takes over. I'm hoping to totally eradicate this as it's very invasive. Now couch grass looks a lot like ordinary grass except the root is very fibrous and long. It's main problem is it is so invasive.
I had planned on strimming a lot of the overgrown area but my strimmer broke halfway round. Now I had this fault before and I managed to repair it after being told it was unrepairable. Basically the starter cord is fully pulled out and not retracting. Last time I replaced the spring of which I shall have to do again I believe.
But as the strimmer was out of action I decided to use a hoe to clear all the crap from the over grown area which worked but is a lot of effort to clear a small area. However it works and if I keep on top of hoeing it should stay weed free until I'm ready to build beds and plant etc.
I harvested a bag of Casablanca potatoes although I still had more home guard I wanted to see how these had done. And it was another 1lb of potatoes from this bag so the same as the home guard. This is making me think that the method I've used to grow potatoes this year is not successful. Now this year I've planted potatoes in rotted horse manure with 3 seed potatoes one-third from the bottom and another 3 a third from the top. I think the horse manure need to be more rotted down and I've planted too many per bag so next year I shall be only planting 3 seeds per bag at the most.
After this I've harvested all the remaining shallots digging over this bed to make sure none was missed and removing any roots. My plan now is to cover in compost and manure ready for garlic planting next month. I they harvested more runner and french beans and a few more peas.
I've also harvested a couple of leaks because these two plants had started to send up a flower spike and I didn't want them to bolt before I could use them. this is telling me that perhaps the leaks need more watering so I gave them a good soaking with water of which I shall continue during the week.
so at home the greenhouse is just a complete jungle, I've tied back the cucumber plant in there and tried with the tomatoes but they just have taken over. finding ripe tomatoes is challenging as i cant see for all the greenery but they are there and I keep picking a few every day.
the water melon in the potting shed is growing really well and has in-fact got some very small fruits on it so I may well have a success with this plant this year. fingers crossed.
this weeks featured photo for this episode is in-fact a photo I took the other day of the flowers on the small pumpkin plant growing outside I'm pleased to say these are now flowering and hopefully setting to fruit although I haven't really seen any sign of fruits yet.
over the past two episode I've discussed the netting cages I have recently purchased. you may remember that I placed one of these over the little bed in front of the potting shed to protect the lettuce and radish seedlings I had there. well I didn't quiet get the ends sealed enough and one of the chickens found their way in and ate many of them the little buggers...... however it couldn't find its way out till I fetched her out so I see that as punishment.
ok so todays main subject preserving fruits such as apple and pears of which we will all soon be harvesting these if we are not already. This series I've been discussing over the last few weeks have mostly involved freezing, drying, dehydrating or cooking in many different forms and this week is no different but with a few additions.
freezing can be done with most fruits but its best to remove any cores and these will be very mushy when they come out the freezer but something I like to do is stew the fruit and freeze the stew. With apples this is simply making an apple stew and freezing that until ready to use perhaps in a crumble. sometimes I make a load of crumbles or pies and just freeze these as they are ready for a quick pudding from the freezer.
dehydrating is easy as slicing the fruit and placing on the dehydrator until soft flexible but dry. fruit leathers are very similar a sort of fruit jerky I guess is a way to describe them. I simply wash the fruit I plan to use remove and core or stones and peel and chop the fruit. I taste the fruit at this point to test how sweet it is and whether or not to add any sugar. I place all the fruit in a pan with about 250ml of water to every litre of fruit and simmer, cover and leave on a low heat for about 15 minutes or when all the fruit is soft. I than mash this fruit to a pulp. again I taste this to test for sweetness adding sugar slowly if required and also any spices if desired. I also add a bit of lemon juice to help with the colour. I continue to simmer till all the sugar is dissolved. I then puree in a food processor until the mixture is very smooth. i then pour the puree onto a sheet of baking paper that has been pre cut to fit in my dehydrator, its worth doing this in small batches so as to use all the mixture but with several leathers. this then gets placed in the dehydrator and dehydrated for about 6 hours but I check regularly and adjust as required. if using several trays to dehydrate this I like to keep changing the trays around to keep the dehydrating even as some may dry quicker the others.the fruit leather is ready when its easy to peel from the baking sheet. I then store in an airtight container.
many fruits really do well made into chutney and jams I've put a few recipes out on the website and will have many more coming in the future so its worth visiting the recipe section on my site to find some of these rather than going into the detail on this episode as I've done many recipes over the last few weeks for this method.
many fruits store very well just in a shed or un heated room placed on racks with plenty of airflow around them. this method has been done for centuries and is still a very good method. in the future i plan to build a rack for this so keep an eye for that but the idea is to keep the apples of the ground and separated with plenty of airflow somewhere dark and cool and they will keep for months. in the past I've wrapped each apple in newspaper and placed them in a box and kept the box in an unheated room and this worked quiet well. the most important thing to remember with this store method is to check on them once a month and remove any damaged or rotting fruit immediately.
now my final method is one of my favourite methods and that is turn into an alcoholic beverage. ill-use apples in this example as I have brought trees specifically to make juice or cider from. I take the ripe fruit and I cut and chop them down I have done this in a food processor but it's very time consuming, the correct kit is much better but can cost a fair bit. this kit is called a fruit crusher. the fruits is then taken into a press and juice is pressed out of this. I've actually brought a fruit press for this as in the past I've made various presses which have been ok but an actual press is much better. now at this point if you don't want to make cider you can just use the juice but to keep it for longer then a few days either freeze the juice or pasteurize it. however to turn the juice into cider is very easy at this point. add one campden tablet per 4.5 litres of juice this stops oxidisation. I then take a hydrometer reading of the juice to get the start gravity. this lets me know if I need to add castor sugar (dissolved well in the juice) to bring the start gravity up. ideally for cider we are looking for a start gravity in the region of 1040 to 1045. in order to reduce the start gravity I add water. I start the fermentation process as soon as possible after pressing and poured into fermentation buckets with the adjustments made I then add a sachet of yeast into the juice. i tend to use champagne yeast but its worth experimenting with different yeast and give it a really good mix. this mixture then goes into a demijohns with an airlock added on the top. I leave this until the water in the airlock stops moving which means the yeast has stopped fermenting and turning the sugar into alcohol. the cider now need racking off. this is where the cider is removed from the demijohns into another demijohns and the sediment is left behind and disposed off. after a few days i will rack off again but this time i rack off into bottles ready to be drunk. this racking off just leaves a much clearer cider.
so that's it I hope I haven't gone to far into the cider making process but that was a very rough run through in the future i plan on covering this subject more and in more detail so if you have anything to add let me know also let me know if you have any methods of preserving fruit you do. I would love to hear them.
so that's it for this weeks podcast until next time take care.

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