Thursday, 23 October 2014

Kitchen Garden Notes – Apple Festival at Clumber Park

If there is one date we put in our diaries each year it has to be for the annual Apple Festival weekend at Clumber Park. Since 1990 various Apple Day events have been celebrated up and down the country and the Clumber Park event has now become one of the most famous.
It all takes place in one of my favourite and most visited parts of Clumber Park – the Walled Kitchen Garden. Before we set off on our apple trail I had a quick scout around of the garden to see what was left growing at this time of year. Adding a spot of colour was some purple broccoli.
The leeks are looking are good and I can think of so many recipes to use them in.
Getting ready for those Christmas dinner plates were the Brussels Sprouts. If you ever wondered what becomes of those long stalks they grow on my nan used to have a walking stick made from one of them. Our favourite way to eat Brussels Sprouts is to fry them with sweet chestnuts which we gathered on this weekend from the surrounding parkland.

The first apple activity we had a go at was eating an apple straight off the tree. It didn't take any persuading for the Junior JibberJabbers to scamper up the ladder to pick their apples. Another one to tick off on their 50 things to do before you're 11¾ list.
After that it was time for the competitive streak to kick in with the Bowl-a-rama. Do you go for broke and aim for the 10 or play it safe and stick to the 5s and 6s? Master JibberJabber's throws weren't as long as he hoped and so decided to trot up to the holes and throw the apples directly in!
If such precision wasn't your forte then there was also a chance to shine at the apple peeling. It took patience and concentration to use the mechanical peeler. How long a continuous apple peel could you have managed?
The nifty peeler also cored and cut the apples into one long slice!

After all this hard work it was time for a well earned drink. However on Apple Day you have to help make the juice of course! With wheelbarrows of windfalls at the ready the apples needed to be crushed first before being put into the juicer
In this kitchen garden there is no place for modern electric appliances. All the juicing was done using an old-fashioned press and brute force.

After some liquid refreshment it was time for some more apple tasting. In the Walled Kitchen Garden at Clumber Park they specialise in apples from Nottinghamshire and the neighbouring counties of Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
I'm always amazed at the number of different apple varieties there are. Each of the apple samples had a short history and tasting notes next to it. Do you prefer sweet or sharp apples?
Once we had done with all this eating and drinking it was time to see where the apples had come from in the kitchen garden. There are some fairly young trees. At Clumber they are always keen on preserving heritage varieties and reintroducing fruits and vegetables which are no longer available elsewhere.
In the old orchard there are the more established trees. There are local apples such as Bess Pool which was discovered in Nottinghamshire. It dates from the 1700s and was named after the daughter of a nearby innkeeper. In total Clumber has over 70 varieties of apples and has received National Plant Collection status. It is just one of five collections in the country that are conserving culinary apples.
Before we left I couldn't resist a look at the dahlias and it seems the bees couldn't help themselves as well. I just hope they will be back in the spring as without the bees there won't be so many apples.

Joining in with the gardening love with Annie at Manneskjur and How Does Your Garden Grow?

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