Recently, my husband Dave and I spent a wonderful polka dot filled weekend in the Blue Mountains (NSW). We browsed through the lovely shops, wandered around the cool climate neighbourhoods in full autumn colour, drank delicious hot chocolate and foraged for mushrooms.
Spectacular autumn colour in the Blue mountains
You’ll know from reading ‘Foraging for Fungi’ on Gardens and Polka Dots last time that Dave is a ‘doer’ he’s not a ‘gunna’. He gets an idea and the next thing you know, the wheels are in motion and he’s making whatever it is happen. Like I said, ‘it’s exciting to be me… (sometimes, depends on the idea)’.
Last winter Dave made apple cider. He bought a fruit press and all of the ‘other’ paraphernalia and by Christmas we had delicious apple cider (bubbly and alcoholic of course!). And it was pretty tasty for a first go. So considering that we would be in an apple growing region in apple picking season we, yes WE, would go apple picking for Dave’s apple-cider apples.
The fruit press. The fruit goes in the juice comes out, but not quite that simply.
We spent the night in a little wooden cabin in Blackheath and woke to the most magical of days , perfect for, you guessed it, apple picking, but also lunch at the Apple Bar in Bilpin and a visit to Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens. It was a sun-filled autumn day and we had lots to do. Breakfast was a super delicious blackberry muffin. Blackberries are a weed in these parts, so to say the berries were fresh is an understatement. We had an unexpected visit to a delightful market and walked away with vegetable seedlings, annuals, honey, bees wax candles, nuts and that warm fuzzy feeling you get after you visit a really good country market.
Feeling warm and fuzzy while I look at fresh produce at the country market.
Next was a short drive to the northern side of the Blue Mountains, to the Bells Line of Road. It is a beautiful drive and you can get wide open views of the Gross Valley and picture perfect views of the Australian bush.
For our apple picking we decided to go to Shield’s Orchard http://www.shieldsorchard.com/
We had heard about Shields, so that was the reason for choosing them over all of the other ‘pick your own’ orchards and we weren’t the only ones. It was a busy weekend in the Blue Mountains.
Apples ready for picking
When we arrived we chatted to the owner about our quest for ‘lots’ of cider apples. Unfortunately (to our knowledge) all of the cider apple trees have been removed from the Blue Mountain orchards. They weren’t popular a decade ago and were ripped out, but now, with the increase in popularity of apple cider they are more in demand. However, Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Sundowner apples will do the job.
A Granny Smith apple waiting to be picked
We were given our baskets and pointed in the direction of the orchard where we pillaged the ground for any suitable, unbruised, freshly fallen apples. Often when you pick one apple another apple will fall off the tree. Often they are left on the ground by the picker – I guess it isn’t as much fun to pick apples off the ground as it is to pick them off the tree. But they are perfectly fine and they are the ones we got for Dave’s apple cider.
Granny Smith apples for our basket.
Of course I picked some apples off the apple tree for fun and eating, yum!
There’s one in every group!
All up we collected about 30 kgs of apples to make apple cider. As I write this the apples are fermenting and I can hear the water valve releasing carbon dioxide out of the fermenting bottle, a sign that all is going well with the apple cider making.
It is truly exciting to be me, I have a ‘doer’ in my life and I couldn’t be happier. “Thanks Dave!”
Until next time.