Updated: Oct 20
Puddle Fact: The most popular fruit in the UK is the banana
Harvesting Home-Grown Fruit and Ways to Preserve
The Puddle Project has established fruit trees (plum, pear, apple) providing lots of fruit in the summer season.
As the summer sun ripens your fruit trees and bushes in the UK, it's time to enjoy the delicious rewards of your home garden. Harvesting home-grown fruit can be a joyful and satisfying experience, but it's also crucial to make the most of your bounty by preserving it for the months to come. In this blog, we'll explore the best practices for harvesting and preserving your home-grown fruit in the United Kingdom.
Harvesting Your Fruit
Timing is Key
Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting fruit. Different fruits have different ripening seasons, so it's essential to monitor your plants and trees closely. Here's a rough guide for some popular fruits in the UK:
Generally, apples are ready to pick from late August through October. Check for colour and give the fruit a gentle twist; if it comes away from the tree easily, it's ready.
Pears are typically ready from late August to early October. Like apples, they should come off the tree without too much effort.
Plum varieties have varying ripening times from July to September. Look for a slight give when you squeeze them gently.
These are usually ripe in late August through September. Pick when the berries are shiny and easily come off the plant.
Use the Right Tools
When harvesting fruit, it's essential to use the right tools to avoid damaging the plants and fruit. Some useful tools include:
- Pruners or secateurs for cleanly cutting fruit from trees.
- Soft baskets or containers to avoid bruising delicate fruit.
- A ladder or fruit picker for hard-to-reach fruit high up in trees.
Be gentle when harvesting fruit to minimise damage. Handle the fruit with care, as bruised fruit doesn't store well. Always pick fruit with clean, dry hands, and avoid dropping or tossing them into containers.
Preserving Your Fruit
Freezing is a simple and effective way to preserve fruit. Wash, peel, and chop your fruit as necessary, then spread it on a baking sheet to freeze individually. Once frozen, transfer the fruit to airtight containers or bags. This method works well for berries, peaches, and other soft fruits.
Canning is a traditional method for preserving fruit. It involves heating fruit in sugar syrup and sealing it in sterilized jars. For this method, you'll need canning jars, lids, and a large pot for processing. Follow reliable canning recipes to ensure safe and long-lasting preservation.
Making Jams and Jellies
Jams and jellies are a delightful way to enjoy your fruit throughout the year. For jams, combine fruit, sugar, and pectin, then cook until it thickens. Pour it into sterilized jars, seal, and allow to cool. Jellies are made by straining the juice from the fruit and following a similar process. Experiment with different flavour combinations to create unique preserves.
Drying fruit is another fantastic preservation method. You can use a food dehydrator or your oven to gently remove moisture from the fruit. Dried fruit is perfect for snacking, baking, or adding to cereals.
Fruit compotes are a versatile way to preserve fruit. Simply cook your fruit with sugar and spices until it thickens. Store in the refrigerator or freeze for long-term use. Compotes can be used as toppings for desserts, mixed into yogurt, or served with meats.
Puddle Round Up
Harvesting and preserving your home-grown fruit in the UK allows you to enjoy the taste of summer all year round. With the right timing, tools, and preservation methods, you can savor the flavours of your garden's bounty even when the cold and dark days of winter arrive. So, get out in your garden, pick your fruit at its peak, and embark on a rewarding journey of preserving the taste of summer in your kitchen.