Tag Archives: pick your own

Damsons!

21 Oct
by Deanne

Photo of DamsensWhile visiting a PYO orchard during my recent visit to England, I discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson.  They look like plums but are a tad smaller with a richer color of purple. According to what we read, they are sometimes quite tart. Photo of Damsen Picker Francine Ours must have been at just the right amount of ripeness because we ate more than our fair share.

Photo of a bowl of damsonsWhen we returned to Francine’s flat we looked through her River Cottage Cookbook to figure out what to do with them.

Francine decided to try this recipe from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.  It seems it is best to cook them with their skins and stones until the pesky things fall off.  She produced a beautiful rick looking sauce that we ate over lovely vanilla ice cream.

Damson Sauce

4 parts fruit

1 part sugar  (depending on desired sweetness)

Place damsons in a pan with water. (Check out the original recipe for for exact measurements) Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring regularly, for 10-15 minutes, until the fruit has collapsed and the stones have come free. Put the fruit in a sieve and rub through with a wooden spoon to remove the stones and skins. It makes a beautiful purple mess.  Don’t sweat the mess, relish it because it will surely create a vivid memory.  You will sweeten the damson purée by stirring in sugar to taste and leave to cool.

Have you heard of damsons?  Do you have any ideas on what to do with them?

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Pick Your Own Apples and Memories

18 Oct
GrangeFarmShop
appleboxes
 by Deanne

One month ago today I landed at Heathrow and began an amazing three week visit with Francine and Scott. Last time we traveled to England, I discovered a new pastime: visiting farm shops! It didn’t take long to make a list of more to visit while I was there. One weekend we went to one for lunch and then went to another to “play” in their pick your own (PYO) apple orchard.

Scott drove us on narrow winding roads, next to pastures of sheep and through sudden patches of deep dark forests. We stopped for lunch at Cowdray Farm Shop and Cafe. Satisfied by a wholesome meal made with veggies and other goodies from the farm, we eagerly got back into the car so we could ride past more pastures and through even more woods. After a wander near a historic Tudor country home that is in ruins, we arrived at Grange Farm Shop. Photo of Cowdray House

Between picking apples, eating apples (they really do invite you to taste them) and snapping pictures of apples, we remembered the times we made applesauce, apple oatmeal cake and discovered a new-to-me fruit called a damson. I will share pictures and discuss damsons in the next post.

Photo of Apples in the Orchard

Photo of Fallen ApplesWhen I returned home, I learned that Steve had attended an event here in Des Moines called Forgotten Tastes.  He had the opportunity to taste over 60 varieties of heritage apples.(I am not sure how many he actually tasted. ) The event highlighted the work of Seed Savers Exchange near Decorah. In the late winter he will be helping to graft some trees so these old varieties can be re-introduced.

What apple memories did you make this year?

Our Pick Your Own Adventure

6 Oct
by Francine

I’m familiar with pick your own strawberries and pick your own apples, but pick your own kohlrabi and broccoli (!!?) sign me up!  Two weekends ago, we spent an entire afternoon at Garson’s PYO Farm, with 30+ crops you have to drive around to the different fields, but once we found the fields we got lost in rows of sweetcorn, jumped over pumpkins and spent a very long time in the raspberry bushes (there were SO many!!). 

Here’s some photos of what we discovered.  We plan to visit again this weekend to get some more apples and, of course, some pumpkins.  Hopefully next growing season we can rely only on pick your own for all of our produce needs.

A photo of kohlrabiMassive kohlrabi just waiting to be turning into some fresh Kohlslaw.

a photo of the applesSo many tasty English apples.

a photo of pumpkins

A patchwork of pumpkins.

a photo of cabbageThe purple cabbage was very tender.  I made some tasty slaws.  There was also broccoli for picking.  I picked a few bouquets and turned it into an American favourite…broccoli slaw!!

a photo of squashLook what I found…an ambercup squash. I wrote about this squash last fall in my series on squash.

a photo of runner beansI discovered a new bean…the runner bean.  As you can see runner beans are very long, you can eat the same way you standard green beans, cut up, steamed and tossed in butter.  But I decided to cut ours thinly and add to coleslaw for more crunch.

a photo of raspberriesI’d probably still be in the raspberry patch stuffing my face if it was up to me.

A photo of a sunflowerCute bees.

Have you picked your own everything?  Are you still harvesting from your own garden? I’d love to hear.