We have two apple trees in our garden and this year we’ve got a crop that to call bumper, would be a massive understatement. So far we’ve got about 9 crates of cooking apples in the cellar and we’ve only picked the smaller tree, and part of the bigger one. That doesn’t include all the slightly damaged ones that have already been stewed or passed off as ‘gifts’ to everyone who visits us – you’re not allowed to leave without taking a bag of apples with you.
I’m trying hard to extend my range of apple-based recipes – so far we’ve had apple crumble, apple pie, pork and apple casserole and celery, tomato and apple soup – a Delia recipe which is a bit lovely. Apple cake to come, as well as some apple jelly. But this is all barely scratching the surface, to be honest and I hated the thought of the apples just going to waste.
I asked around to see if anyone knew of any projects who could use batches of cooking apples, either in their kitchens or for cookery workshops and a friend put me in touch with Abundance. I knew a bit about them – they’re a Grow Sheffield project that aims to harvest the seasonal glut of local fruit and put it to good use. Some of the produce is redistributed to community centres, homeless projects and SureStart centres, but they’re also running workshops in making chutney and sessions about juicing and cider pressing. Abundance have recently won a prestigious national award – they won the ‘Grass Roots Project’ in the Observer Ethical Living Awards 2010, which pays tribute to “those who fight climate change and social justice on the home front and have allied their ethical ideals to concrete action”. Well done Abundance!
I met up with Saskia from Abundance today to give them some apples and find out a bit more about what they’re doing at the moment. Abundance is run entirely by volunteers, many of whom also work fulltime and they are always looking for more volunteers to get involved with picking, distributing or processing produce. It’s important that you have some free time to share between August and the end of October, during the harvest season.
Abundance make every effort to see that produce doesn’t go to waste, so Saskia says that they will try to make use of anything – excess fruit or veg – that can be donated to them. They can use fruit and onions for chutney, and can donate fruit and vegetables to homeless projects for use in their kitchens. They’ve run chutney workshops recently at Weston Park Museum and there are some coming up at Heeley City Farm and Sharrow School. Saskia is hoping to share more ideas at these sessions on using up gluts of produce and hopes that participants will contribute with their own recipes.
If you donate produce to Abundance for a workshop, they’ll name the batch of chutney after where the produce is from – hyperlocal food production. Why not attend one of their workshops and have a go at making your own? There are Abundance events going on all over the city, so get in touch and find out what’s going on near you.
A last shout out! For all this delicious chutney, Abundance need a LOT of jars. If you have some empty jars with metal lids (they need to be metal rather than plastic, for sterilising), think about donating these to Abundance too. Get in touch with this fabulous Sheffield project here and let’s see it keep growing (sorry).