I adore autumn. Generally the first few weeks of the season are still very much summery in feel, but as the cool nights take over from warm, and afternoons bring the gully breeze that blows right through the house in a cleansing energising way, it feels the season is truly upon us.
While I find the change in season invigorating, it is the fruits of autumn that really excite me. Whether it be the early ripening currants which are delicious fresh but also brilliant sun dried on the cellar roof, apples and pears from my dear friends Marieka’s secret abandoned orchard, or the medieval quince as winter comes knocking, I love them all.
And the abundance! For some reason there seems no other season when our gardens and kitchens groan with quite so much produce. You simply cannot go visiting anywhere without having a brown paper bag of fruit tucked into your arms as you are leaving. And it is this that makes me celebrate autumn the most I think. The sense of connection found in sharing home grown and foraged produce, put simply, is a tonic for the heart and soul.
Home drying my own fruit is one of the most simple and lovely ways to put away some of autumns abundance.
It was quite a revelation to me the day I discovered that all I needed to do was pop my sultana grapes or fresh picked prunes onto cake cooling racks in the sun and over the course of a week or so they would be dry enough to store for the coming year. No fancy dryers, no SO2 , just good old sunshine and away we go. Of course by mid autumn things are cooling down such that a blast in the dryer inside at night doesn’t go astray, but early in the piece this is a brilliant way to process your excess grapes, particularly if you are the type to bake your own hot cross buns for Easter.
I’d love to know if you home dry your own produce too.