My local orchards are open to the public! Not only was I lucky enough to get some delicious apples but I could pick quetsch damson plums too!
The orchard Les Vergers de Steinsel is open Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 pm to pick your own fruit. You can buy boxes there or take your own bags. Take note that the following weekends are the Fête des pommes: 28/29 Sept, 5/6 Oct and 12/13 Oct – which means there are tables set up to have a glass of something refreshing and grab a bite to eat, and they open from 10 am.
The kids can watch them make freshly squeezed apple juice and try to manoeuver the wheelbarrows. But get there early to avoid the crowds and the disappointment of them running out of apple fritters!
It is difficult not to come away without tons of apples (and damsons in my case). Here are a few ideas for using them all up! The obvious choice is desserts:
Damson tart using sweet shortcrust pastry
225g plain flour
50g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg lightly beaten
Damsons stoned and quartered
- In a food processor or mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, salt and cold cubed butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the beaten egg and mix until the pastry just starts to hold together.
- Remove from the mixer and knead pastry a couple of times just to make it smooth and hold together, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Prepare your damsons and preheat oven to 200°C or fan 180°C.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and allow it to come back to room temperature before rolling out on a lightly floured surface.
- Roll to 4-5mm thick, then line your pastry tin and put a circle of greaseproof paper on top of the pastry and add ceramic beans and bake for 15 mins .
- Remove from oven, remove greaseproof paper and beans carefully then add damsons and sprinkle with icing sugar and bake for a further 25 minutes.
- Serve warm or cold with a spoonful of ice cream or whipped cream.
This pastry is ideal for pies such as apple and damson pie and can be frozen after baking. Make individual ones, freeze them and reheat in oven for a hassle free desert when entertaining.
– Eve’s pudding with apples and damsons (my favorite, let me know if you want the recipe!)
– Stewed apples and custard – add leftover stewed apples to your porridge in the morning!
– Baked apples, cored and sprinkled with brown sugar and sultanas.
Great savoury ideas
– Stewed apples with roast pork or grilled pork chops.
– Damson sauce with lamb, pheasant, quail, venison, wild boar…
– Damson chutney.
– Autumn salads – apple and cauliflower with a dressing of jerez vinegar, olive oil and a drizzle of honey.
– Chicken and apple curry.
Recipe for damson sauce
1tbsp olive oil
½ onion peeled and finely sliced
½ apple sliced
85g damsons – halved and stoned
1 tbsp red vine vinegar
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
- Heat the oil and sauté the onion for 2-3 minutes, then add the apple and damsons and heat through.
- Add red wine vinegar and sugar and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Season to taste and keep warm until ready to serve.
Still got some fruit left? Any leftover fruit can be prepped for pie fillings and frozen until needed. Apples should be peeled sliced and zapped on microwave for 5 minutes until just soft, let cool then pack in Tupperware containers or plastic freezer bags. And you have a freezer full of healthy fruit ready to use for crumbles, Eve’s pudding pies and tarts.
Text and photos by Alison Korter-Lacki, September 2013
Read more about apple picking and other autumn traditions here.