The late summer harvest – growing apples and pears


I love growing apples and pears and I’m so lucky to have two mature trees in my allotment garden. They were both planted around 4 years before I took over the plot and I’ve been there around 10 years myself now.

Each year the quantity and quality of the harvest is different and depending upon what I’m doing around harvest time, how I store them and what I do with them also differs. For example, in previous years I’ve been away on holiday around this time only to return to find the trees stripped bare. Some years all the fruit falls off so quickly I’m left with hardly anything and some years we pick it all and then it ‘goes off’. So, basically we either have too much fruit, or we don’t have enough and vow to make the most of it the following year.

pears-growingBaby pears last month, I love the way they grow up in the air!

Pears seem to be a lot easier to store, they last longer and they get eaten by Adam very quickly so it’s just apples that I need to work on.

We’ve undertaken various tasks to over the years to make the most of our harvest. We’ve subjected ourselves to mammoth picking sessions just before we go on holiday, but often only to return to mouldy fruit. Adam also made an ingenious ‘apple catcher’ a couple of years ago but of course the majority of the apples that fall off (windfalls as they call them round here) are usually damaged so there’s not much point in that either.

One year we bought a fruit press and made cider. Never again! It was a lot of effort, a lot of apples and not much cider. It took us hours and all the juice squirted through the muslin and wooden slats splatting everything in sight! There was definitely some comedy value in what we did but not much else.

Then other years things go very well and we have just enough fresh apples and pears and no hassle! Those years are the ones where the harvest isn’t too overwhelming. This year, thanks to the amazing blossom in spring we have more apples and pears than I’ve ever seen before and I’m definitely overwhelmed!

apple-tree-blossomFruit blossom in spring

This year I want to do something different and I need ideas! I’m very lucky that dotcomgiftshop asked if I would like to review a product and knowing that I have this big apple and pear harvest to contend with I chose their vintage style apple produce tray. I promised them a review in exchange for the tray so I’ll have to come back to that later when it’s really been put to the test! I’m really impressed with it so far though. It looks great and it’s a lot bigger than I thought it would be. It’s also got really nice smooth surfaces and I like that because I can keep it clean more easily than a rough finished tray and avoid dragging dirt into the kitchen.


I’ll be able to get two stacks of apples in my tray separated with brown paper. Then I can store them, I’m just not sure where to store them this time, in the light or in the dark? I’ve tried both in the past but still end up with a few mouldy apples.

In terms of eating my harvest this year, I also have elderberries in my garden and I’ve seen a gorgeous recipe for stewed apple and elderberry pancakes in my new Nigel Slater book! Adam bought me his Kitchen Diaries II book for my birthday and it’s full of seasonal recipes using up everything he grows in his garden. So, apart from stewed apple and just eating apples as they are, what else can I do this year? I fancy getting a juicer (I’m never using the fruit press again!) but I have no idea which one to buy and how much use I’d get from it…decisions, decisions!

Do you harvest apples and pears? How do you store them? Do you freeze them, juice them and do you have any recipes? All ideas welcome!


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35 Responses to “The late summer harvest – growing apples and pears”

  1. Christina August 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    It is hard when there is so much of something NOW, and then how do you store it? I have similar problems with peppers and aubergines. I trawled the net and found some great ways of conserving things, chutneys and fruit jams among the things I made. You can pickle pears, and they are delicious (a Delia Smith recipe from her summer book (I think its on line too), but whatever it makes life busy! Christina

    • Anna B August 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

      Hi Christina! This is soo true! Picking, washing, peeling, eating, weeding, picking, eating, cooking…!! It’s never ending! Pickled pears sound really interesting. I’ve been googling juicers too, I’ve seen a good one that also makes puree and I’m quite keen on that idea. So expensive though, but I think could be the key to using the fruit up quickly and easily. Glad to hear you’ve got a lot of peppers and aubergines though. My peppers are really poor this year, i’m gutted as usually they are amazing and really help me to fulfil my dream of total fruit and veg sustainability! I think I sowed them too late this year. Thanks so much for dropping by and I’ll be sure to google pickled pears too! :)

  2. ofgardens August 29, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Glad you got to enjoy a nice harvest this year!

    • Anna B August 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      Thank you! Although I have only just started eating the fruit, it’s only just become ripe :)

  3. Cathy August 29, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    This year hasn’t been good for apples here, but usually our neighbours give us loads – a lot end up on the compost heap as they don’t keep, but I make liqueur, strudel, compote, cake – you name it! It’s an incredibly busy time, but I hope you manage to process as nuch as possible!

    • Anna B August 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Hi Cathy! I really wish I could find a way to make them last longer. Normally everything I grow myself lasts so much longer than what I can buy apart from the apples? Compote and cake sounds like something I could do. I do enjoy just eating them as they are but even at an apple a day I wouldn’t get through them all! Thanks so much for dropping by, I will google some cake recipes that use apple!

  4. CJ August 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    I don’t ever have too many apples and pears, but if I did I think I would stew them and freeze them. With excess vegetables I usually prepare them simply and freeze them. It is so disappointing to lose things when they go bad, especially after the effort of growing them! I am making a really big effort this year (my first with an allotment) not to waste anything.

    • Anna B August 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Hello CJ! Frozen stewed apple is a really good idea. I get so disappointed too when things I’ve grown go bad too. Sounds like you’re enjoying your allotment :) Thanks so much for your ideas!

  5. pianolearner August 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    We’ve been growing Discovery apples, but the wasps have had half of them…

    • Anna B August 30, 2013 at 4:49 am #

      Hey dude! Yes, wasps can be a real pain. They are the source of a lot of Apple destruction. I’ve not had many at the allotment this year, I think the cold snap around spring killed them off up there. Usually they do eat their fair share though. Hope all is good with you guys, thanks for dropping by!

  6. gardeninacity August 30, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Hi Anna! There are many great applesauce recipes and it freezes well. There’s also apple butter, but that’s harder to make. I also love to eat fresh apples and pears.

    • Anna B August 30, 2013 at 6:07 am #

      Hi Jason! Yes, you can’t beat just eating them fresh and forgot to mention just how tasty these apples and pears are, so different to the ones I’ve ever bought. I think I will make some apple sauce, especially if it keeps. I’ve also been reading about wrapping each apple individually in newspaper too! Determined not to let any go to waste this year, quite a challenge! Thanks so much for your comment & ideas :)

  7. Katie B August 30, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    Looks like a great haul this year, I must admit, I only have a little pear tree so there’s only three on there, but I am still very excited to enjoy them! I think it’s been a very good year for apples, as long as those pesky wasps don’t help themselves!!

    • Anna B August 30, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Katie B! Yes, the wasps are menaces! Cool about your pear tree! They will be the most loved 3 little pears ever :-) thanks soo much for dropping by!

  8. Jenny August 30, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    We have an apple tree and a pear tree in our garden. Last year we were new to the house and had less than a dozen of each, but this year both trees are completely laden. The apples are cookers so rather than storing them whole I think we’ll probably do some interesting recipes with them and then stew and freeze the rest ready for a winter of crumbles and pies :)

    • Anna B August 30, 2013 at 8:50 am #

      Hi Jenny! This must clearly be a good year then! What an improvement :) I think interesting recipes then stewing and freezing sounds like a great idea! Winter crumbles and pies sound fantastic! I think I’ll join you :)

  9. Cathy August 30, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

    Hmm – and I bought a juicer a few years ago to try and make the most of the eating apples we sometimes have, but only used it once…..! Mind you, this is the first year for ages we have had a lot on that tree, and although some are dropping and the wasps are at them the one i tried wasn’t ripe yet. It’s getting the balance, isn’t it? The cookers are no problem – and I either blanch and open freeze them, make stewed apple or one year tried drying which I will do again this year. Good to have those pears too. Do you know the varieties?

    • Anna B August 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      Hi Cathy! Unfortunately I have no idea what varieties they are because they were planted before I took on my plot. I’ve tried to identify them a few times but I’ve never really been convinced of what they are! All I know is that the apples are really amazing, and I really mean that! Honestly, other allotmenteers steal them and come to collect the windfalls because they’re just so nice! Adam uses the blender a lot but that’s not really very good for apples so we’re busy contemplating a juicer right now! Like you say, it could be something that never gets used…they’re expensive though so we would have to make a pact to use it a lot! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  10. Jo August 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm #

    I bought a couple of patio apple trees last year but I haven’t had any fruit on them yet, I suppose they’re too young. I’m really looking forward to having my own apples to pick though, I’ve got both a red and green variety. I don’t think I’ll get enough apples on patio trees to have to store them though.

    • Anna B August 31, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

      Hi Jo! I’m lucky to have such mature trees but waste is a problem so it’ll be nice for you to have enough not to worry about storing them! Hopefully you’ll get some next year and if they’re anything like mine you’ll be amazed by the taste :) Thanks so much for your comment!

  11. thesneakymagpie August 31, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    My tree is full of apples too and I am glad the birds are helping themselves to it! I keep making apple pies, apple sauce and freezing slices so I can use them in cakes in the winter too. Apple sauce keeps well in a jar as well as frozen. x

    • Anna B August 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

      Hi sneaky magpie! Apple pies sound good! I’m definitely going to freeze some stewed apple so I can use it over the next few months. I’ve just delivered a tray full to family and to be honest, just eating them as they are is best but I’d need more than an apple a day to get through them all! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  12. Nadezda September 1, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Anna, I envy you have big harvest of fruit! This year we have no apples, only some and we’ll eat them quickly. I do store apple and I love to dry the slices. It’s easy to do and isn’t expensive. I cut apples with slices and put them on a grid in a stove with min. temperature ~ 50 C. Then I collect dry slices in paper pack.

    • Anna B September 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

      Hi Nadezda! Drying sounds really cool and thanks for letting me know how it’s done! I’m going to give that a try :-) thanks so much for dropping by!

  13. Anna September 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Oh what a great asset to inherit when you took on your plot Anna. Apparently it’s a bumper crop this year. Your trees look quite tall. We are only allowed dwarf rootstocks on our plots so I don’t think that I will ever have a surplus of apples :) The apple tray looks most attractive. I was surprised by how sturdy my tray was and may well treat myself to another. I’ve got the same Nigel Slater book and the elderberries are ripening nicely so you’ve given me food for thought. Will just have to keep the pigeons away from them!

    • Anna B September 1, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

      Hi Anna! I had some cheats stewed apple & elderberries this afternoon! By cheats I mean I just heated some chopped apple & the berries in the microwave with only 2 pinches of sugar for a couple of minutes! It was great! I took a load of apples up to family this weekend in that tray – it’s brilliant! I still can’t get over how 3 of us all chose trays!!! Hope you enjoy your elderberries too! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  14. Holleygarden September 1, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    How wonderful to have so many fruit trees! I can only imagine how very excited you are to have so much fruit from your trees this year. I agree with Jason on making fruit butters. Yummy goodness!

    • Anna B September 2, 2013 at 4:54 am #

      Hello there! Fruit butter isn’t something I’m overly familiar with, I will investigate!!! Thanks for your comment and I hope all is good with you :)

  15. hoehoegrow September 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    I was interested in your experiences with the cider press ! I have been giving them covetous glances, and thinking cider would be a fab way to use all these apples, but your experiences have made me re-think !

    • Anna B September 2, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

      Hello there! My experience wasn’t great but I’ve read some blogs where people love using a fruit press and making cider so if you’re interested then try it! If you give yourself a full day outside then I think that would be better but we started too late in the day and it just became a messy chore. Really interested to know if you give it a go! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  16. Carrie September 7, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Later varieties keep best – if yours are ready now, they’re not going to be great keepers. You can probably get them identified though, at a local apple day – try google.
    I have a dehydrator and love it. I dry lots of apples for snacking on all year round.

    • Anna B September 7, 2013 at 8:47 am #

      Hi Carrie! I think we’ve identified them as Pink Lady! They are definitely pink inside but I always thought pink lady apples had a full on pink skin on the outside too but apparently not! They’re keeping better this year than ever before but not sure about long, long term success. I bought a juicer last week and am loving using that! So easy and a jugful of apple juice uses up about 7 apples so it’s a great way to get through them! Dehydrated apple chips sound great too! I might have to investigate a dehydrator :) Thanks so much for your comment and ideas!

  17. wellywoman September 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

    We don’t have a big enough supply of apples yet as our tree is still quite young. My mum in law stews the fruit until it’s mushy and then freezes it to use in pies etc through the winter. To be honest though we would need a bigger freezer. I can’t get in there at the moment it’s already so full of gooseberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and now raspberries. I can’t eat too much sugar so making jams is out of the question and honestly I don’t know when other people find the time to do all the jam and preserve making. Making our bread and cooking our meals from scratch is time consuming enough. ;) In the days when I could eat dried fruit I did love dried apple. Especially lovely in porridge.

    • Anna B September 26, 2013 at 9:34 am #

      Hi wellywoman! stewing and freezing sounds like a good idea. I do have some space for that. I’ve actually been juicing them though and getting through a lot of them that way. 8 or 9 apples for a glass each for me & Adam! It’s GORGEOUS too! Really delicious. I’m tempted to bake some sliced apple but like you finding the time for a lot of cooking is difficult. My favourite thing to do with them is actually just chop into small pieces and microwave for about 30-40 seconds. I don’t even add sugar – I like the tang and then I eat that with yoghurt – cheat’s stewed apple :) Thanks so much for your comment :)


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