I was going to have a photo of the apple trees here, but it is dark now, so here is part of the front garden in spring when it was behaving nicely...
So I posted here last year about my shame and angst at the waste that happens in our garden when there is a glut of fruit or vegetables, when everything ripens at once. Harvest, and using the harvest is one of the hardest things about gardening. I read that in one Jackie French's gardening books once when I was a new gardener, and didn't believe a word of it. And really, when you plant a seed, or a tiny apple tree, it is very difficult to imagine the massive amount of food that will one day be dropping all over your garden every day, filling all the kitchen benches, and threatening to go off before your very eyes if you don't cook it or eat it TODAY.
As a hobby, food gardening is demanding. Unlike, say, knitting, that you can put in a cupboard when you want to do something else, gardening is needy. The apples will ripen and drop from the tree, the pots will need watering, winter vegetables will need sowing, the pears and the tomatoes will be piled up in the kitchen giving you the LOOK every time you walk past them. And it will be hot, and there will be bales of pea straw ready to mulch the beds, but they need to be weeded and fed first..
Tomatoes, giving me the LOOK
You might get the idea that I don't like gardening, but I love it, I really do. Just like I love being a Mum, but there are days... you know?
Anyway, this week when it has been so hot, I have been determined not to waste any of those ripening apples and pears, but unwilling to cook anything, so I have been filling up the dryer on a continual basis, with tray after tray of fruit.
I bought the dehydrator second hand a few years ago, and have been making it work very hard ever since. I mostly put it out in The Man's shed, so its humming and heat don't drive us insane in the house, and whatever stage the drying process is at, I turn it off at night or when I go out, which doesn't seem to harm the fruit at all. Most books (including the instruction manual) will tell you to dip the fruit in a syrup or lemon juice before you dry, advice that I completely ignore. I just chop around all the nasty codling moth holes in the fruit, slice, skin and all, and pop straight into the dryer tray.
I dry them until they are quite crunchy, and able to be snapped. That way I don't have to worry about them going mouldy in the jar. There is a gap in the ring of apples on the left where The Vulture Child snitched a piece while I was turning around to get the camera. By the time I had put the camera away, she had eaten the entire inner ring.
Here is the final product, in the ubiquitous coffee jars. It is super yummy, clearly, and only part of the harvest makes it into a jar at all. The pears are sweet and chewy, the apples are so perfumed it is like eating essence of apple. It is the only fruit (bar pineapple chunks! and our home made fruit leathers) that Posy will take to school.
The other day I saw this exact same product being sold at our local wholefood store for $36 kg. Ours cost about 70c for electricity per batch. So I'll be making more, and maybe hiding it so there will be some left for winter..