cider making kit
cider or wine can be made from windfall apples

October being apple month, when cider was traditionally made, seems the perfect time to be making juices or alcoholic beverages; and with it being half term week, your children (or grandchildren) can help to gather and rake, wash and chop. Making cider or wine cannot properly be described in a short blog post, but you may like to know that you can buy a small stainless steel manual crusher, instructions and other supplies from Wineworks, and an apple press from Dobies.


'Red Love' apples
‘Red Love’ apples

For those who cannot manage the expenditure or time for cider-making, here’s a recipe we’ve been making for over 40 years, using no more than a coarse domestic mincer. Wipe 1.5 kilos (3lbs) apples. cut into pieces and mince; then place into an earthenware or Pyrex bowl and pour add 5.5 litres (12 pints) of fresh cold water. Cover, and leave for 7 days, stirring night and morning. Strain and mix in 91grams (2 lbs) granulated sugar and the juice of 3 lemons. Leave for 24 hours then strain and bottle in screw topped bottles (empty lemonade bottles are ideal). It will be fit to drink in a week but better if kept for a few months.

Gathering carrots on a warm Autumn morning
Gathering carrots on a warm Autumn morning

Using root vegetables in ways other than plain boiled or in soups or stews can tax the imagination, particularly as when mature and somewhat coarse. Carrots, swedes and parsnips are delicious when mashed, either alone or mixed in any combination. Don’t over-cook, add a dollop of butter, sprinkle with parmesan if you like, and finish under the grill. It’s a great way of encouraging youngsters to tackle the rather earthy flavour of parsnip and swede. (Click on the links above for seed varieties that you can order now for next year; there are lots more in the current catalogue.)

With Halloween fast approaching, pancakes are a  must. I make no apology for repeating the recipe given in the March e-newsletter for Shrove Tuesday. Holding a grandchildren’s pancake party has been a family tradition for years – and they offer a quick and marvelous dessert at grown-up informal dinner party, too. Serve traditionally with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice, or with home-made jams or jelly, or with the indulgence of maple syrup and cream. Scrumptious!

hot buttery pancakes
Pancakes – hot, buttery and absolutely delicious

So just in case you’ve lost it, here’s my husband’s fool-proof recipe for success. Make the day before if possible. Into a food processor or liquidiser put ½pt (250ml) milk plus 2 tabs cold water. Add 2 medium-sized hens eggs (from your own chickens if you have them – the result is that much tastier). Process at high speed till well-mixed, then with the processor set to its lowest speed, gradually add 4oz (100gms) plain flour and ½tsp salt, then mix on top speed until all is well combined. Transfer to a jug, cover and store in the fridge overnight. To cook: Stir the batter with a fork. Take a flat pancake pan: melt a knob of lard, add a swirl of butter; at the first indication of ‘blue smoke’ – it’s more a haze than actual smoke – pour in about half a teacup full of mixture, tipping the pan this way and that just above the heat to distribute the batter over the whole pan surface. Cook until a knife inserted at the edge of the pan will lift the pancake away from the base. Flip over with a knife (there’s no need to toss!) and cook the second side.

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