The harvest starts in earnest!
The grape and hazelnut harvest has begun in earnest here.
It is always a happy time of year to watch the farmers bring in their annual crops. Their relief and joy is infectious. Huge tractors trundle along the main street of Canelli pulling heavy carts lined with plastic and laden with fresh grapes.
We were enjoying lunch at an outdoor cafe the other day and could actually smell the grapes as they passed us.
Other tractors also passed, pulling smaller carts full of perfect little round hazelnuts.
So we decided that it was time for us to get in on the act and start our own harvest!
Thanks to a previous owner, we have 3 apple trees and 5 hazelnut trees, all of which are well-established.
The apple trees are antique varieties and have never been tampered with in terms of genetic modification. This means that the apples go brown quickly but are delicious.
The hazelnuts are also old and free of genetic modification. The nuts are small but delicious.
Although ‘brown’ and ‘small’ are unpopular words these days in the food industry, we’re more than happy with our ‘pure’ harvest because we believe eating organic and unmodified is right for us.
The trees have born fruit/nuts every year but the quality has been poor because they had been badly neglected for over 30 years.
I have spent the last 8 years pruning (butchering!?) the trees while I slowly learned how to help them yield. A mix of books, internet surfing, local advice and trial and error has resulted in big juicy apples and big tastier hazelnuts this year. Our neighbour has even commented on our shapely trees and asked me where I learned to prune!
One day last week, I spent 3 hours grovelling on my hands and knees under one of our hazelnut trees collecting our crop by hand. When my back became too tired to be bent over, I sat on the ground and continued collecting.
That night my buttocks had perfect round bruises on them!
I gathered 5kg of nuts from just 1 tree. In a few years, when the 40 hazelnuts we planted this year start to bear fruit, we should bring in about 200kg of nuts!
Mmm…that’s a lot of bruises…
We spread the nuts on old sheets so that they could dry in the hot sun for a few days before we put them in storage. Stu now has the onerous task of shelling, roasting and skinning them!
Please note that all of these tasks are bruise-free.
Yesterday, we wandered down to our apple orchard with a large orange harvesting bucket swinging between our arms.
We brought home 50-60 apples and have spent the morning peeling, cutting and stewing. Our apples will be consumed in various formats (bircher muesli, pies, cakes, sauces) during winter…