You’ll see your plants in a fresh light when you grow something that has the X factor: it’s like digging in your garden and unearthing a treasure chest full of gold coins. (On second thoughts, perhaps a slight exaggeration.) But as with most things human, ‘good nutrition’ is one part what you believe, one part what ‘The Man’ wants you to believe, and one part good science. You can’t just wish away the good old ‘placebo effect’.
The winners are the Sturmer apple and the blackcurrant
All that being said, when my ‘reality show’ pits all the fruits that we grow against each other, June and I, as the judges, would be sorely tempted to award first equal to the Sturmer apple and the blackcurrant. But the popular vote would no doubt go elsewhere as viewers searched for the latest fruit ‘super-food’ with the greatest X factor.
Top of the charts forever
That’s just fine: I bet hardly anyone has Sturmer apple trees or blackcurrant bushes in their garden these days. Our Sturmers and blackcurrants are feasted on every day by the two of us until they run out after nine or ten months. These aren’t flash in the pan performances – as far as we’re concerned, a small berry and a high vitamin C apple (which is neither sweet nor red), will always be ‘number 1 hits’.
I told you about our love affair with the Sturmer at the time when we were harvesting them late last summer.* Early summer’s the berry harvest: strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, blackcurrants. And usually blueberries – the bushes were dripping with berries last season but had so few on this year that it wasn’t worth covering them with bird netting: they’re a bit on again, off again like that.
There’s nothing quite like the first pick of the season to reignite your passion for a favourite vegetable or fruit. This season’s blackcurrants, well-protected by netting, pretty much all came ripe at the same time. ‘First pick’ took the two of us a couple of hours and yielded 2.3 kg.
Great timing! We’d had the last of the frozen blackcurrants a few weeks back but had eked out the entire year by supplementing them with another X factor berry – the blueberry. So a few days ago we started on this season’s blackcurrants.
… a very small bowl of berries?
June and I grab a small handful each and sprinkle them on our breakfast porridge. We’re eating them fresh at the moment, but most, still in their raw state, go in the freezer in big plastic bags. For breakfast, we just scoop out a small bowl of frozen berries the night before and put them in the fridge to thaw out. Easy as.
A bit of rough
We pick them carefully and make sure that the individual berry stalks don’t come away with them. The tiny brown ‘tail’ is left on – a bit of extra roughage. All good – long live the high fibre diet!
What goodies are you getting along with the fibre? With a handful of berries and an apple a day, we’re getting plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants to keep colds away. The scientists tell us that keeping topped up with vit. C means a flu is far less likely to trigger pneumonia. And apparently, the chemistry of the antioxidants in blackcurrants is such that the immune system is given a tickle up.
Of course all this assumes you’re not destroying all that goodness by cooking the little darlings. June used to boil away merrily and toss in lots of sugar in pursuit of a Ribena-like cordial. We finally got our heads round the fact that we wanted to enjoy the maximum health-giving benefits that this little beauty could bestow on us. Away with denaturing all those enzymes in a flurry of processing excess!
For flavour though, you can’t beat a pie made from fresh blackcurrants – so intense! We’re not zealots to the nth degree! Long live the purple stain on your lips from red wine and, dare I say it – blackcurrants. X factor indeed!
P.S. We’re letting some tailenders ripen before we pick the last of the blackcurrants for the season. That should yield another kilogram or so. So far we’ve picked 14 kilograms.
P.P.S. More still on the bushes than we’d thought – 17.7 kgs in total this season.
I can’t believe this season’s hay is already stored in the shed – so early! I’ll tell you about it next Monday.
That’s all on modern-day homesteading at Little Owl Gully for this week. Thanks for your company. Bye for now.