Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: fruit trees

Cherries – Growing and Cooking

I understand that cherries are a good source of vitamins and minerals including potassium, calcium, vitamin A and folic acid. They are also well known for their antioxidant properties. I think the birds who visit our garden are also aware of this as they seem to know the minute that the cherries are ready to harvest. I have two trees, a Stella and a Sweetheart, however they are both now too tall to net so we agree that I pick the lower fruit and then birds can have the higher up bounty.

Sweetheart is a popular, self-fertile sweet cherry and the large fruit have a good flavour. Beautiful white blossom in spring is followed by large, sweet dark red cherries (darker than Stella). This is a late-cropping variety, so useful for extending the season. The fruits ripen over a few weeks so you don’t get a glut all at once and you can be picking well into September.

Stella is a smaller tree and is also self fertile.  It is a heavy cropper having good resistance to late frosts. Stella will thrive in most locations and can be grown in a large container. The sweetly flavoured fruit will be ready to pick from mid July.  The lovely blossom which appears from early March will brighten your garden and herald the arrival of spring.

 

We all like to eat the fruit as it comes but another family favourite is Cherry Pie.

Recipe:-

  • A guestimate of cherries, washed and pitted
  • Lemon juice
  • 4oz sugar
  • Almond essence
  • 1 block of Sainsburys Shortcrust pastry

I normally cook the pitted cherries in a little lemon juice and sugar with a dash of almond essence. Set them on one side and line a pie plate with half of the pastry. Pour in the filling and put the pastry lid on. I brush with milk and sprinkle sugar on top then bake in the middle of the oven at 180 for 20 mins.

How to pit cherries. Place the cherry on top of the mouth of an empty bottle. With a chopstick, apply pressure and push the pit into the bottle. 

 

From beautiful blossoms to delicious pie

Pear Discovery

Yesterday, 13th October, Laura and Glenn harvested the pears. Despite having had a blight of European Pear Rust on the leaves, we had a very good result from the Discovery. The Red Williams and the Beurre Hardy however didn’t give us any fruit worth a mention.

European Pear Rust – On pears Bright orange spots on the upper leaf surface. As summer progresses brown, gall-like outgrowths develop on the corresponding lower leaf surface. Fruit may be affected, but this is much less common. This fungus attacks both pears and junipers. In fact it needs both plants in order to complete its life cycle. Another reason for the removal of the enormous fir tree from the side garden.

image

Conference Pears

I have completed harvesting the pears from the garden this morning. This tree had no fruit at all last year but this season has been great with lovely blossom in the spring and loads of fruit. I understand that these pears keep well but I shall be having a look at how I can use them in cooking as there are so many.

Cherry Trees

 

We have two cherry trees in the back garden. One cost over twenty pounds from Ken Muir and is called Sweetheart. The other cost three ninety nine from Lidl and is a variety called Stella. They have both blossomed beautifully this year and because we had next to no frost have fruited well too.  The Stella fruit seemed ready in early July and because it was attracting a lot of interest from the local Blackbirds I took off the fruit when it looked ripe. The fruit was very tasty but I now find that harvesting should have been late July. The Sweetheart tree fruit has looked red and ripe for a while but on doing a bit of investigating on the internet I see that the fruit ripens late August and is very dark. I have already taken some fruit off but the taste didn’t seem right. Now I know why. I hope that I shall remember this next year but who knows. Ken Muir has died this month aged 85. Our condolences to his friends and family.

Apple – Elstar Malus Domestica

Today I bought an apple tree from Aldi. It is an Elstar, an offspring of the Golden Delicious.  I bought this cultivar once before and it died. However the original cost £25.99 and this one only cost £3.99 so there is not so much to risk. Oh well I was just as disappointed when this tree died but it was a bit easier because of the low cost.

Elstar is a crunchy apple. The flesh is lemon-white. In most Golden Delicious offspring it is the other parent which provides the essential counter-balance to offset the sweet blandness of Golden Delicious. In the case of Elstar this is Ingrid Marie, a variety which originates from Denmark. Although not a widely-known apple, it lends a bit of sharpness to the mix – inherited from its own parent, Cox’s Orange Pippin. The result is Elstar, which is probably one of the best Golden Delicious offspring.

Dessert Plum Opal – Prunus Domestica

plum-opal.jpgOpal plums are a sweet, bite-sized dessert plum with a great colour range. From sunshine yellow to deep purple, often on one fruit. They have pale yellow flesh with a Greengage flavour. This is a really early cropping plum tree and in a good year you can look forward to the first fruit being ready at the end of July. Opal is a self pollinator

We bought this tree today as a companion for the Cox apple in the chicken run. Update – both of these trees turned out to be plum so my Cox’s Apple tree is still a dream.

Dessert Apple Cox’s Orange Pippin – Malus Domestica

 

cox.jpg

We bought one of these trees today from Lidl for £3.99 and plan to plant it in the scratching area of the chicken run. There used to be a big old Sorbus in there but it has died completely and will have to be removed along with an old Bamboo. We shall have to protect the trunk until it is established. The hope is that as well as providing some shade for the girls they will enjoy the windfall too. We have a Granny Smith’s Apple in the side garden, close enough for pollination we hope.

The Cox’s Orange Pippin is England’s most famous apple variety, sweet with just the correct amount of acidity, it is packed with flavour.