Our Bountiful Autumn Harvest 2020
Keeping you updated with our Autumn Harvest here in East Yorkshire
We know how lucky we are to live here in the East Yorkshire countryside, especially in a year like this when everyone’s world has been turned upside down by Covid19. I thought a little glimpse into our Autumn ‘must do’ jobs might be a cheerful distraction for our visitors and friends. Perhaps you are having to self-isolate or have made the choice to remain safely inside. Hopefully, a window on our end of the year outdoor activities might prove to be a metaphorical breath of fresh air.
Harvesting foods from our garden and hedgerows
Harvest in the fields finished in September, so with that big job out of the way we’ve had time for our home grown fruit and vegetables. Our mature fruit trees are in the garden, whilst the younger ones are planted in the wild-flower meadow at High Barn. We try not to waste any fruit, so we pick up the windfalls and they can be used in the production of apple juice if they are not too bruised. When we notice the birds visiting the trees for their dinner, it’s time to shake the fruit off and collect it in big tubs and crates. James usually takes a truck load to the Side Oven Bakery at Foston on the Wolds, where Tim and Caroline very kindly turn our apples into delicious apple juice for us and our guests to enjoy.
Who’d have thought that one Victoria plum tree could produce quite so much fruit? The photo below shows one day’s picking and there were quite a few days when we picked the same amount again! Chutney, jam, pies, crumbles, freezing and giving as much away as possible seemed to be the answer, but Victoria plums are simply delicious eaten straight from the tree, so we didn’t stint ourselves.
If you know what to look for, Autumn is the time to seek out field mushrooms and we usually spot some in our fields and paddocks. They vary in size from ones that look like the button mushrooms we all buy in the supermarket to generously sized plate-like specimens that can feed a family. Puffball mushrooms appear almost overnight and they too are edible. We have eaten them, once I’d checked how they should be cooked – simply sliced and fried in bacon fat. They were tasty, but we only ate them the once, probably because we were rather wary and anxious not to be poisoned.
With winter fast approaching and the prospect of long, dark evenings, it’s always good to have a treat or two tucked away. Without fail each year we pick sloes from the blackthorn bushes and make sloe gin. It’s so easy – just sloes, gin, sugar and a few almonds. It’s best left in a dark place for 6-12 months to mature. We use kilner jars for storage and then decant it into prettier bottles when it’s ready. Such a lovely warming tipple and totally organic!