Many thanks to all the schoolchildren who sent cards and notes thanking us for the apples for their schools. As many of you probably know, each year we give out free apples to the local primary schools, and this year was no exception. In total we gave away about 8000 apples, and we are very grateful to the schools for having collected these, as it is not something that we could arrange without the assistance of teachers and principals.
Sending out apples to the schools always reminds me of my own school days, as each year I would bring in a box for the class at Hallowe’en, and we would have a great party. Happy memories of simple pleasures like ducking for apples, and snap apple, not to mention ducking for coins.
We are delighted to be mentioned in the 2005 Bridgestone guides again for next year, not just for our apple juice, but also for our fruits and other fruit products. Bridgestone Guides are published by John and Sally McKenna, and are an invaluable source of information on the best accommodation, food and drink in Ireland. To find out more see
At the moment we have Elstar apples, and shortly we will also have Golden Delicious, Jonagored and Karmijn de Sonnaville. Bramley’s are available as usual, and we also have some pears, though they won’t last long.
As usual we have apple juice, apple jelly, and strawberry and plum jams for sale, as well as farm-made cider vinegar.
Also, for those who like cider, we have Willie Rost’s brew. Made from apples pressed on our farm, and fermented in Co. Clare, this is sold as Johnny Jump Up, and is a medium-sweet cider that will appeal to many.
We have Bay Lough cheeses from Clogheen too, and apple tarts made by Joe Ahern at Rock House in Cashel.
Each Saturday, 9am to 1pm. The very best of locally produced foods. Organic foods, fresh foods, foods that have not come halfway round the World to get to you. Not to be missed.
We were intrigued when contacted by researchers in University College Dublin recently, as they are working on a storage aid for apples. As part of their work, they needed access to refrigerated apple stores like we use on our farm to keep the fruit fresh. The supervisor of the research, Professor Michael J. Hennerty, and his students wanted to place some sample fruits in our stores, and to keep them there until March, when they would be tested to see how well they kept. Needless to say, we were delighted to oblige, and are very interested to find out how the trials go.
It is heartening to see some research being conducted on apples, as it is an area in which the state has invested no research money since the 1970’s, and without ongoing research and the information generated, an industry like apple growing can quickly fall behind. It definitely seems to be short-term thinking not to invest in research and development, as if other countries invest and benefit from it, they are very quick to export their products to Ireland, costing Ireland much more money than the investment in research would have in the first place.
In the next week we will be completing our apple harvest for 2004, and will be putting the apples into storage. We use two methods to improve the life and quality of the apples.
Firstly, the stores are cooled, and so this reduces the respiration rate of the apples (apples breathe like you and me, but the colder it gets the slower they breathe, and so they keep well for longer). Secondly, we seal the stores to stop air getting in or out. This works on the same principle as people used years ago when storing apples in a milk churn. In a sealed store, as the apples respire, the oxygen gets used up and replaced by carbon dioxide. This lack of oxygen puts the apples to sleep, and so they store for longer and keep their flavour and firmness better.
The combined effects of the low temperature (about 4ºC) and low oxygen level will hopefully mean that we will have fresh-tasting apples right through until February or beyond.
If you have a good crop of apples at home, and want to store them, the ideal piece of equipment is an old working fridge. The cool temperature will be of assistance, and the fridge may even have a good seal, in which case, if it is not opened too often, you may get a drop in oxygen levels too. Remember though that generally only late-season apples store well, so early apples should be used up first, and watch out for apples going bad and remove them. You don’t want a bad apple to spoil the barrel.