An apple tree pruning masterclass in Sheffield

In November 2016 I planted 15 apple trees on our plot bought from Huw Evans of Sheffield Organic Growers.  I was lucky to benefit from his advice and experience which he has built from establishing a 300 tree orchard over the last seven years.  Yesterday Huw has kind enough to drop by to show me how to carry out the all important formative pruning to ensure the trees develop into productive and healthy trees. 

Over the next few years we hope that these trees along with the other soft fruit, salads, herbs and perennial vegetables will contirbute an increasing quantity of supplies into PJ taste.

Huw accessing how to proceed with this Red Windsor apple tree.  He selected the four main branches at the top of the tree and cut these back by up to half of last seasons growth to an outward facing bud to encourage these to branch further.  The lower branches were cut back to between 4 and 6 buds to encourage them to develop as fruiting spurs.

Huw accessing how to proceed with this Red Windsor apple tree.  He selected the four main branches at the top of the tree and cut these back by up to half of last seasons growth to an outward facing bud to encourage these to branch further.  The lower branches were cut back to between 4 and 6 buds to encourage them to develop as fruiting spurs.

The trees I planted over the winter of 2016/17 are listed below.  I have added descriptions from the Orange Pippin Trees web site

Two Discovery -the definitive early-season English apple variety.

Three Red Windsor - Self-fertile, so there is no need to worry about pollination partners. It grows naturally in a neat and tidy fashion, and crops heavily. The apples can be picked over several weeks so you don't have to deal with a glut. It seems untroubled by the usual diseases of apples, and the blossom also has some resistance to frost.

Two Ribstone Pippin - A particuarly handsome apple, thought to be one of the parents of Cox's Orange Pippin. It has some of the aromatic qualities of that variety when eaten fresh, but is noticeably sharper in flavour - and for this reason is often used in the kitchen as well.
By Victorian times Ribston Pippin was very popular as a late autumn apple, and the Victorian fruit enthusiast Robert Hogg reported that it was in "greatest perfection during November and December".

Two Blemhein Orange - Blenheim Orange is a popular large English heritage apple variety, widely grown in gardens. It has the characteristic orange flush which is often associated with English apples. Although it can be eaten fresh, it is best considered a culinary apple, and it cooks to a stiff puree.

One Rajka - a modern apple variety, developed specifically to be resistant to the main apple diseases, and hence a good choice for the gardener or home orchardist who prefers an organic or un-treated regime. The fruit is deep-red coloured over a golden yellow background when ripe. The flesh is a creamy-yellow colour and is open-textured, fairly crisp but not too hard, and snaps cleanly when you bite into it. The flavour is sweet, but with good acidity.

Two Fiesta - Fiesta is a relatively new English apple, developed in Kent in the 1970s but with a very traditional English style and flavour. Cox's Orange Pippin is one of its parents, and it has inherited the classic Cox aromatic sweet/sharp flavour. Visually it also looks the part, with the attractive orange flush so typical of traditional English apples.Fiesta is one of the best apples for juicing. It produces copious amounts of juice, with a very good rich sweet / sharp flavour.It can also be used as a substitute for Cox's Orange Pippin in apple cookery - slices keep their shape when cooked.


Three Ashmead Kernel - Ashmeads Kernel is a very old traditional English russet apple. It remains popular for its distinctive pear-like flavour which is quite different from most other apple varieties.
Although often considered as a connoisseur's dessert apple, Ashmead's Kernel is actually quite versatile. It can be used for cooking, or sliced in savoury salads, and it keeps very well in a cold store.

The pictures above show Huw deciding how to proceed with the Blenheim Orange.  As you can see each tree presents a slightly different challenge depending on how it has grown through the year.  These trees are positioned quite close to a hedge and it may be that this has created a slightly lopsided growth pattern.  The video below gives some great tips from Huw and shows how he proceeded with this tree.

Huw's advice have given us lots of knowledge about pruning trees of this young age.  He also recommended a couple of books which he says he still uses regularly and cover a wide variety of specis and styles of training.

There are a number of growers from whom I would recommend buying quality trees. 

In the Sheffield area and for planting in this area you could'nt do better than to approach Huw at Sheffield Organic Growers
For a wide variety of trees and great advice on forest gardens - Martin Crawford at the Agroforestry Research Council
Cool Temperate in Nottingham also stocks an interesting range of trees

Finally here is some information from Wortley Hall Walled garden where they re-established the orchard back in 2007 and have plenty of interesting regional heritage varieties.

Sheffield and Yorkshire gift hampers

Our carefully selected hampers contain delicious foods sourced within Sheffield, South Yokshire and they are ideal for Christmas presents, birthday presents or simply gifts at any time of the year.

The PJ taste Sheffield Favourites Hamper

The PJ taste Sheffield Favourites Hamper

This year we have some of our own handmade preserves as well as an artisan chocolate bar which we have made using Barry Callebaut chocolate and chillies grown by John in Killamarsh.  The jams are made with fruit grown on our own plots and made with fairttrade sugar by our chefs.  Our Sheffield Favourite hamper is priced at just £19.95 and can be simply ordered on our web site.

We have added a lovely Christmas Chutney made by Matthew at  Just Preserves  based in Chippinghouse Road in Sheffield.  Matthew shares the same ethos as us when it comes to the care with which he sources his ingredients.

We have added a lovely Christmas Chutney made by Matthew at Just Preserves based in Chippinghouse Road in Sheffield.  Matthew shares the same ethos as us when it comes to the care with which he sources his ingredients.

Ther coffee is from another Sheffield company.  Cafeology buy extremely sustainably and it is seven years since they imported their first consignment of coffee from Asoapia in Colombia, buying direct from the cooperative.  The quality of this Columbian blend suitable for filter or cafetieres is amazing.

Other favourites of ours are Sheffield Honey and Hendersons Relish which complete the Sherffield Favourites hamper.

We are excited to be including within the Premium Hamper (at just £39.95) the SHeffield Cookbook - Second Helpings.  This is a bumper tome featuring the best of the Sheffield dining out scene.

Edible Chrysanthemum - preserving seasonal produce #3

Edible Chrysanthemum, Chrysanthemum coronarium, is an easy to grow annual plant which has thrived in the garden this year.  It is a member of the Asteraceae/Daisy family and otherwise known as garland chrysanthemum or chop suy greens.  Originally from the Mediterranean the plant has spead over Asia and the American continent

Simply grown from seed in the polytunnel with successional sowings over April, May and June the seedlings were hardy and grew quickly in a variety of soils and positions once planted out.

The stems and leaves are used in stir frys and steamed as a green and if you want to encourage this kind of growth then pinching out the top growth to prevent early flowering is useful.  However, having a ready supply of flowers has been brilliant for adding colourful garnishes to our delivered and event catering and these plants willingly started to flower and have kept flowering well into the Autumn, producing the lovely yellow and white and pure yellow blooms.

Chrysanthemum tea - a simple infusion of the flowers gives a golden brew

Chrysanthemum tea - a simple infusion of the flowers gives a golden brew

To preserve the flowers for use over the winter we have been drying them and crystallising them.  The dried flowers will make a lovely golden tea and the sugared ones will give an extra month or two on the garnishing front.

Taking preservation to its logical conclusion I am now collecting the drying seed heads ready for planting next year.  I suspect that there will also be a lot of self seeding going on and it will be useful to be able to recognise the seedlings in case they start to take over large parts of the garden!

Pickled Nasturtium Seeds - preserving seasonal produce #1

We are learning more about growing our own food crops in a sustainable and productive way.  In this series of blog posts I will be picking one plant that I have grown this year and showing one simple and interesting way to preserve it.  The focus is on great taste and methods to store seasonal harvests into food which can be utilised in the coming months.

In this first post I look at Nasturtiums ,Tropaeolum minus, and how its simple to pickle the seeds to produce a caper like substitute.

Nasturium seed which has formed after the flower has finished (remanants of the brown and dried flower attached)

Nasturium seed which has formed after the flower has finished (remanants of the brown and dried flower attached)

Nasturiums are an easy to grow plant producing edible leaves, flowers and seeds.  In our new garden the rabbits seemed to love the young plants so after raising from seed in the polytunnel they were very vulnerable when initially planted out.  Tree guards worked well and from just a few plants we harvested dozens of flowers, followed by loads of seeds.  The dilema was how many to dry and save to plant for next year and how many to pickle!

Tree guards used to protect young nasturim plants - amazingly they plants grew to the top and flourished

Tree guards used to protect young nasturim plants - amazingly they plants grew to the top and flourished

As the flowers die back you will notice the distinctive seed pods forming.  These can be collected whilst still green straight from the plant (you may also notice that some will have already fallen to the ground - judicious selection will determine whether these too are collectable).

Pickling the seeds is simplicity itself and an excellent recipe and method can be found on the Decorators Notebook Blog

The distinctive seed pods still green and picked straight from the plant

The distinctive seed pods still green and picked straight from the plant

Upstairs at PJ taste - the vision

Our beautiful dining and event space is has being created by carefully refurbishing the first floor at our premises at 54 Staniforth Road, Sheffield, S9 3HB.  With the original building dating back to at least 1870 we have uncovered the original timber trusses taking the ceiling up to the apex of the roof to give a fresh, airy feel.  An ideal meeting venue to get those creative juices going.

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The room will be furnished with beautiful tables being handmade from reused pallets by the Daniel Bros at the Portland Works in Sheffield.  The organic feel of this wood will picked up in the cladding of the main curved wall with subtle coloured led lighting reflecting the seasons.  Large globe pendant lights, being a reference to the buildings original incarnation as a billiard hall, along with discrete full sound and av system (being manufactured in Staniforth Road by Cloud Electronics) give the space great flexibility.  Our architects, Burnell Briercliffe in Sheffield, have worked hard to consider sustainability issues in the choice of materials.  The insulation is sustainable wood and all the paints will contain no volatile organic compounds.

Accommodating up to 100 people for a fully seated banquet or 150 people for more informal events our values of handmade, locally sourced and seasonal food will be the cornerstone of the menus.  Fully licensed we would like to feature our own specialities such as cider made from our own apples and perhaps even a Staniforth Road beer flavoured with our local grown Prima Donna hops.  However, guests will be able to create their own themes and menus and work with us to ensure their event is totally unique.

Celebrate Autumn's bounty with our special buffet menu

Featuring our own Sheffield grown food and artisan Derbyshire produce our special buffet for Autumn 2016 captures the essence of nature's bounty.
         

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Menu - Cold Fork Buffet

Fresh baked courgette and cheddar quiche (PJ taste grown courgette) (V)
Platters of PJ taste Sheffield Eggs – Moss Valley pork, Hendos
Stanage Millstone Cheese – a new cheese made in Hathersage served with PJ taste baked bread and our plum chutney (Sheffield grown plums) (V)
Roasted beets, carrots and Jerusalem artichoke with a herby tahini sauce  (v)
 Potato salad with chives (PJ taste grown chives)
Selection of PJ taste Sheffield rhubarb Bakewell and bowl of Hazelhurst organic heritage apples (Sheffield grown)

Free delivery for orders of 10 or more people in Sheffield please book on   0330 043 1954 or ask@pjtaste.co.uk

Some Customer feedback:
We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved in our event on Friday, the day was a huge success and we have received some very positive comments throughout the practice. Your excellent communication prior to the event and the attention to detail we received was military perfection which did not go unnoticed.
Sally Hutchinson, Senior Office Manager, Purcell July 2016

I would like to say a massive thank you from myself and all at Wake Smith.  Your service and food has been excellent and it has been a pleasure working with you. 
Bridie Mulgrew, Marketing Executive, Wake Smith Solicitors.  May 2016

I wanted to write to thank you for the wonderful catering at our event last Friday.   Not only was the quality of the food and drink exemplary but your accommodating and calm approach was very much appreciated by myself and colleagues. 
Alan Dick, Head of Policy, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

 

Sheffield Favourites Hamper

We are really excited about the re-launch of our Sheffield Favourites hamper.  It really reflects our dedication to local sourcing as well as containing lots of ingredients grown with our own fair hands.  So what do you get?

The truffles are made from premium Callebaut chocolate which we have filled with a fruit chocolate ganache made produce we have grown or foraged this year.  We have Sheffield cherries with some of our Cherry Vodka (for added whoosh) and a strawberry centre finished with a dehydrated strawberry piece. 

The raspberry jam was the result of a brilliant and very tasty harverst of raspberries from the allotment - helped this year by actually getting round to pruning back severley last year!

I loved seeing the heritage tomatoes growing at Whirlowhall Farm Trust and was inspired to make a tasty tomato chuntney to preserve the pleasure deeper into this year and next.

The Blossom Honey from the Sheffield Honey Company has long been a favourite of ours and its good to know that the nectar involved somes from within the City boundary!

It has to be Hendos so you will find the iconic Sheffield Henderson's Relish also in the box. 

A new find for us is the Birdhouse Tea Company who blend a range of really exciting teas - we have chosen Full Monty which contains in tes speak, "small orthodox teas from Assam and Kenya".  What I do know is that is makes a reight good brew.

So all in all a great taste of Sheffield - indulge or give away as a lovely gift.  The cost is £23.95 and we have postage options but if you are in Sheffield do call and we may be able to deliver for FREE!!