Fruit Trees and Berry BushesMarch 8th, 2018
There are a wide range of fruits you may be able to produce at home. These are long term investments in your property which are able to round out your diet and improve your self reliance. I encourage everyone to grow as many different kinds of fruit as possible. You could be harvesting one or more every month from June through October or even later. Consider all the kinds of fruit suitable for your climate. Food you buy in the store will never taste as good as home grown. Growing your own fruit you can choose varieties you prefer which are not even available in grocery stores. How can you tell how much of each crop is enough. It all comes back to how easily they store for year round use.
Apple trees produce our longest lasting fruit. Many can be stored in a cool room up to several months here in Southern New England. By canning cider and applesauce we enjoy this fruit year round. Apples are quite reliable, but some years we do have a smaller harvest. So can some extra every year, but check your inventory before putting up more. We set aside time for processing and get friends or family to help. Huge harvests may be put up this way. Make the day as pleasant and fun as possible. Serve some refreshments. Send some home with them or arrange to share the harvest in trade for the help. Many hands makes for light work. Apples are the most flexible fruit as far as when you harvest and process them. Say you only have help available on week ends that is not a problem with apples. Once your trees are bearing well they can be a significant part of your diet. In our area apple trees were heavily relied on for food centuries ago, and most every homestead had its own orchard.They can be a staple food again today. Cider was the common beverage.
Pears are often sweeter than apples, but do not keep as well. The window of time for harvesting and processing is narrower and may occur during the apple harvest. Canned pears do make a delightful dessert in the dark days of winter. A freshly picked pear is a real treat.
Peaches are delicate and most varieties are not reliable in our climate. They must be canned every few days as they ripen. The harvest period here for one variety is only ten days. You may have more varieties to choose from in your area, but as peaches ripen they must be canned or frozen that day or the next.
We grow Cherries because we like them and they seem to have something in them we really need in our diet. They are more of a dessert or flavor for use in baking. Sweet or tart, moist or drier varieties are available.
Grape varieties have been developed suitable for jelly, juice and wine as well as eating fresh or drying into raisins. In our area there are only a few varieties which do well.
There are a wide range of berries you could be harvesting in different months. They do not keep well but make wonderful tasty jams and jellies or pie fillings with lots of added sugar. Berries also freeze well for a few months.
Before standardized Pectin was available in grocery stores for Jam and Jelly making a quince tree was often grown in a home orchard to thicken those wonderful spreads. The fruit of a quince is quite tart but sometimes called for in old recipes for flavoring. If available you may want to add this tree to your orchard if you do make Jellies and Jams.
It is possible to dry any kind of fruit, but much flavor is lost with home methods. Large amounts of sugar seem to amplify the taste of fruit. A steam Juicer can extract a very tasty juice without adding sugar and prepare it for canning. Fruit juice can be made into jelly or poured over whole fruit for canning, sweetened into a syrup, or canned as a juice or nectar to drink. Grapes may be crushed and pressed for juice and of course so can apples and pears.