What could be healthier than growing your own, organic (assuming you don’t use pesticides) fruit, I hear you ask. It has to be better than paying for fruit from the supermarket, right? Well, let me tell you.
Firstly, the stuff doesn’t have the decency to ripen over an extended period of, say, a year. Once the first fruit has fallen off the tree/bush, the rest follow with the suicidal haste of lemmings leaping off a cliff edge. Consequently, you end up with buckets of the stuff all at once. Great, you think, a bumper crop!
Obviously, you want to eat some it as is – lovely crunchy apples, sweet pears, juicy plums and berries – once, that is, you have cut off the bruised bits and peeled off the warty bits of skin and picked off the bugs and cut out the bits where bugs have drilled in and slugs, ants and birds have helped themselves to your crop because you don’t use pesticides and your fruit bears no resemblance to the smooth, shiny, uniformly sized fruit you see in the supermarket. Then, since you’ve had to peel and chop it up, it is no longer a handy healthy snack in the fruit bowl, it must be used before it goes brown and rots or becomes a fruitfly breeding ground…and you have bucket fulls of the stuff.
So where is the health hazard, you ask. There’s nothing wrong with picking off the odd bug and there are no chemicals to worry about. What’s the problem here. You can have some lovely healthy fruit salads or stewed fruit or crumbles, cakes…er… brownies, chutneys, preserves, curds, jams, puddings…oops, I’ve run out of sugar… and butter… and flour…and eggs. I know, I’ll stew it and freeze it, then I can use it whenever I need to make….ummm….cakes and puddings. Drat! Ok, how about cider or liquer. I’ll just get some more….er… sugar. Double drat!
You see the problem? Since picking up just half a bag of lovely fallen pears (too high to pick them off the tree), we’ve eaten 3 or 4 au naturel, had pear popovers with Sunday lunch, made chocolate pear brownies and I have a pear pudding and pear cake lined up (there are a number of options for these, some involving indecent quantities of chocolate – just go to Waitrose’s recipe search and knock yourself out).
And I haven’t even started on the bulk of the apples yet! Despite losing one of the apple trees to snow earlier this year*, we still have another. The trunk may be mostly hollow and riddled with fungus, but it still bears and copious amounts of fruit. I admit that I did stick a few apples in a pork and cider stoup** last week, which admitted was quite healthy, not to mention very tasty ( recipe available on request) but by the time we’ve eaten all this healthy fruit, we’re going to have to enlarge the doors.
It’s also costing a fortune in extra ingredients and I shudder to think what it will do to my weight. You have to wonder whether sticking to buying the odd bags of eating apples is a better option both healthwise and economically.
(*I’m delighted to report that despite the top of the tree snapping off leaving only 3ft of trunk, the tree survived and has sprouted again, though it will be some years before it will bear fruit again, I’m relieved to say.)
(**Stoup is somewhere between a soup and a stew)