On a miserable, grey morning we set off for the one and a half hour drive up to Harlow Carr. The RHS describes it – “As the most northerly of the RHS Gardens, Harlow Carr celebrates its Yorkshire character and charm. Along with innovative design and creative planting, the 58 acres has wonderful variety from sweeping lawns, woodland, water, colourful borders to its more relaxed flower meadows”.
Images from www.rhs.org.uk
The forecast of driving rain did little to raise our hopes, but with a Dunkirk spirit we gritted our teeth and determined to have fun.
One good thing about miserable weather is that it lowers the numbers of people who turn up: but that is so hard for the ones who have worked hard to bring their produce and set up stalls. When we arrived we found an emphasis on ‘Grow Your Own’. There were also ideas for preserving and processing the Autumn haul.
RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate will celebrate harvest this October with its Grow Your Own Autumn Festival. As described by the Harrogate News at http://www.harrogate-news.co.uk/2013/09/29/harlow-carr-celebrates-harvest-grow-autumn-festival/
” Supported by Mr Fothergill’s, the festival is aimed at foodies, families and grow-your-own enthusiasts. It will take place on the 12 and 13 October and will feature cookery demonstrations, fungus-themed activities, apple tastings, stalls and children’s workshops.
The festival will take on a distinctly autumnal feel for this, the ‘UK Fungus Day’ weekend, with growing tips, displays, cookery demonstrations and mushroom walks led by members of the Mid-Yorkshire Fungus Group. Apples will play a big part in the celebrations with apple displays featuring northern cultivars and apple identification. The Yorkshire Rotters – supporters of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign – will also be onsite with their special juicing bike, showing visitors how to make the most of seasonal fruit and giving out delicious recipe cards.
A pop-up autumn food market will give guests plenty to sink their teeth into with local artisan producers selling a range of tasty delicacies from chili plants and herbs to home-made preserves and cider. Local jazz group ‘Swingplicity’ will be adding to the festive atmosphere with live music, and children’s craft workshops will make sure the little ones stay occupied. The RHS Advisory Service will also be on hand, ready to answer any and all questions and help anyone from novice to expert with their gardening queries.”
I was particularly taken with a venture which saw buyers gathering together to pledge support for a farm, Old Sleningford Farm. As their literature says,
“Welcome to Old Sleningford Preserves, producers of fine jams, chutneys, sauces, cordials, apple juice and cider – and many more delicious preserves – all made using the fruit and vegetables grown on and around Old Sleningford Farm, near Ripon in rural North Yorkshire.
Old Sleningford Preserves is a Community Supported Agriculture scheme (CSA) – an innovative approach to food production where members pledge support to a farm operation and share the responsibilities and rewards of food production. The most common CSA’s are vegetable box schemes, where members pay in advance to receive a regular supply of fresh produce. Old Sleningford Preserves will be similar, only the produce will be preserves.
Members of Old Sleningford Preserves CSA receive a monthly supply of jams, chutneys, jellies, relishes, sauces, juices, cordials and even cider – all handmade at Old Sleningford Farm using fruit and vegetables grown and harvested by us.”
Obviously there were the usual ideas for chutney, jams, jellies etc but this group brought their equipment to demonstrate how to make cider and fresh apple juice.
“For a number of years, Old Sleningford Farm have been producing apple juice and cider for their own consumption and have offered the use of their equipment to others to make their own too. Many of the apples have been collected from local trees and orchards, many that would just have gone to waste. As well as having the juice and cider available to members, we will continue to offer open days for people to make use of the equipment. Rachel can also offer to process any fruit on behalf of those who have apples and don’t want to waste them, and pasteurise any juice made.”
We were able to have a go at putting the apples through the initial shredding process, which involved a fearful machine with rotating blades:
then the chopped fruit was put into a cloth bag and lowered into a round wooden tub which looked rather like a cheese press. A lid was lowered mechanically to fit into the opening and by turning a handle the juice was produced.
Image from http://greatslamseys.blogspot.co.uk/ which is a fun blog about a farm and its diary!
Words fail me as to the taste. I do not like apple juice, it is too sweet for me. But this juice had layers and layers of flavour, freshness and aroma. It was unlike any juice else I have tasted – quite gorgeous. They just put whatever apples they had spare into the mix, – both cookers and eaters alike. The only preparation necessary is to wash the apples and cut out any rotten or mouldy parts – “If you wouldn’t eat it you wouldn’t drink it!” The resulting pulp is fed to their pigs but they say that poultry love it too and of course being so finely ground it breaks down fast on the compost heap. Apparently the juice lasts for up to a week in the fridge, but if one wishes to keep it longer it needs to be pasteurised, which is of course what happens to all commercially produced apple juice. My friends, if you can, do try to get hold of some fresh, unheated apple juice produced from multiple varieties. As you can tell, I was greatly taken with this, and know how much the geese would adore the resulting pulp – Debra in particular loooves apples:)
We then moved into an area where I expected to be able to taste the apples but instead there were just a few people who talked enthusiastically about the apples and sold them. The bad weather was an explanation I think. There were about 15 different varieties,, mostly cookers and ‘dual purpose’ which was a little disappointing as I had rather hoped for more. This area and the ensuing apple viewing were, both, mercifully, under cover, since by now the heavens had opened. These were manned by the Northern Fruit Group who had brought a large number of varieties to view, about 240 different types which I thought was good for a more northerly county of England. The names were wonderful – to name but a few -
• Acklam Russet: Charlestown Pippin, Dog’s Snout: Flower of the Town: Grandpa Buxton: Green Balsam: New Bess Pool: Ribston Pippin: Yorkshire Aromatic: Yorkshire Cockpit:
and I got lots of helpful advice for my orchard plus an introduction to a Nursery which grows many of these varieties on differing rootstocks. MM106 was recommended for my situation and they supplied me with a leaflet suggesting which fruit cultivars of all kinds to grow in the north. We spent a long time looking and talking: my sister decided to buy a Newton Wonder apple for her tiny garden since it is dual purpose and self fertile. I was most taken by the description of an apple called St Edmund Pippin: “Like pear-flavoured vanilla ice-cream” but unfortunately I could not taste one:( We have decided on a visit to a local fruit nursery in the next few weeks to see and order our fruit trees, once I have made up my mind, but I will wait until after my visit to Kent before making a final decision!
From left to right: back row is Blenheim Orange, Lady Henniker, front row is Hawthornden, Wormesley Pippin, Rosemary Russet.
By this stage we were flagging so we headed for Bettys for some sustenance. This was a feast visually as well as orally, and I will give details in my next post.
Incidentally, the taste test for the above apples was as follows: Rosemary Russet had no taste, but I wonder whether it was picked early for the Festival and needed longer to ripen. The Hawthornden and Wormesley Pippin were good dual purpose in that they were not at all sour or acidic to eat raw, but to my palate they lacked flavour and aroma. I and husband differed over the back two: husband preferred Lady Henniker which was the sourer of the two when baked but was full of flavour, while I liked the inherent sweetness of the Blenheim Orange although is was less flavourful than the Lady Henniker.