Autumn’s generosity is always bittersweet. It always seems to be saying; enjoy it now before winter comes to claim its due.
It’s a glorious day in the Weald, both sunny and slightly chill. I missed the seasons when I lived in South East Asia. The undying summer had no rhythm, no cycle of birth, death and rebirth, but I have to confess there are times in the dark of a Sussex winter when I miss the heat and humidity.
We’ve started to pick the apples. The Blenheim Orange had a tremendous crop this year. It makes the most glorious apple juice I have ever tasted. Forget the stuff from cartons. Even forget, pardon me, the pasteurised varietal juices in bottles (though some of them are very good). Freshly pressed, unpasteurised juice from a heap of Blenheim Orange apples is as close to bliss in a glass as I have come.
I say that even thinking of the best pints, most sublime glasses of wine and the finest malts I have enjoyed. Those can be in turn wonderfully refreshing, mesmerising and profound. But for sheer happiness a glass of the very best fresh apple juice can’t be beaten.
Like the warmth of autumn, however, fresh apple juice is a fleeting thing. It doesn’t keep. Most of the juice from the Blehheim, the various Bramleys, the Arthur Turners, (plus a few small Tom Putt, Michelin and Kingston Black trees) will be turned into cider.
Cider is the means by which we preserve the autumn’s warmth through the winter months when fires are lit and the sun becomes apple shaped.