Gardening expert and no-dig allotmenteer Jack Wallington provides weekly advice on how to grow food yourself
The other day on my allotment I was head down in a raspberry bush, picking and eating the delicious berries, because I’d forgotten to take a container with me – waste not, want not. In that moment, happy as happy can be, I reflected on this primal action that connects humans across millennia, of picking and eating berries. Yet how few have the opportunity these days - most of us buy fruit from shops.
If you grow your own fruit, now is the time to think about storing some away to use over winter. Firm apples, pears and quince are easiest, picking just before they are ripe; store undamaged fruit in a cool (3-7C), dark, frost-free place that has good ventilation, a little humidity and is protected from rodents – a garage or a basement, for example.
Space fruits on paper so they don’t touch, allowing for air circulation around each one. Never pile fruit. Use slatted shelves or wooden boxes for air movement or invest in a specialist rack with multiple sliding trays (primrose.co.uk). Apples will last for a number of months, pears one to three months and quince up to a month.
Softer fruits, such as raspberries, blackberries, grapes, strawberries and blueberries, can be frozen – perfect for desserts and smoothies whizzed up in a NutriBullet. Wash and dry them, then spread on to greaseproof paper, cover in cling film and freeze overnight. Then transfer into freezer bags. Do the same with earlier fruit, such as gooseberries.
Seeing my allotment laden with shiny jewels of fruit evokes a feeling of autumnal wholesomeness, something complete and perfect. My gentle grip on apples and raspberries as I harvest, doing everything not to bruise them, to save them for winter, offers a connection to something bigger.