TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

May 17, 2011

When to pick gooseberries

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 9:14 am

When to pick gooseberries depends on the variety.

Picking usually starts in late May – before the gooseberries are fully ripe.  The first picked gooseberries are hard and tart; these are used for cooking crumbles, pies and tarts.  If the gooseberries start to fall of the bush, they need picking.

Picking some gooseberries early will thin the crop, and allow those remaining on the bush to grow larger and ripen. They will get softer and sweeter as they become ripe.

gooseberries-on-bush

gooseberries-on-bush

Dessert gooseberries are particularly large, soft and sweet when ripe and change to a pinky colour.  They are usually ready in late July or August and can be eaten when picked, without cooking. But it is worth picking a few desert gooseberries in late May , which can be cooked, so that the fruit is thinned out.

The gooseberries will not all ripen at the same time, so gooseberry
bushes have to be picked several times to harvest the ripe gooseberries.

*Leveller  is a popular desert gooseberry which is ready in August.
*Leveller  has thin skins.

invicta-gooseberry

invicta-gooseberry

Invicta  is a green-berried gooseberry variety, grown for cooking. It
has mildew resistance, & ripens in late July/early August.

thorns-gooseberry-invicta

thorns-gooseberry-invicta

Invicta is a very prickly variety so it is worth wearing gloves when
picking Invicta gooseberries. 

 The answer to ‘when to pick gooseberries’ is from late May, but pick
gooseberries several times, to allow the smaller fruits to get bigger.

August 30, 2010

How to Tell Victoria Plums are Ready to Pick

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , , , — TopVeg @ 2:34 pm

There are four signs which tell if Victoria Plums are ready to pick:

  • Twist the plum gently off the stem. The plum is ripe when it comes off easily.  Plums usually leave their stalk on the tree.
victoria-plums

victoria-plums

  • The colour of the plum changes when they are ripe.  The skin becomes reddy-pink on one side &  yellowy on the other.
ripe&unripe-plum

ripe&unripe-plum

The plum on the left of the picture is not quite ripe.  It is greener than the plum on the left which has turned more yellowy as it has ripened.

  • Cutting a plum open will reveal the stone & show if it is loose inside the plum.  This a a photo of the yellowy plum above after it was cut open.  The stone was quite loose and fell out
ripe plum with loose stone

ripe plum with loose stone

If the stone is still firmly attached to the flesh and difficult to separate, the plum is not ripe.  The photo below is of the green plum in the picture above.  The stone would not come away from the flesh.

unripe plum cut

unripe plum cut

  • Gently squeezing the plum will tell if they are still hard.  If they are softening a bit, then they are ripe.

Victoria plums do not all ripen at once, so they are not all ready to pick at the same time & the tree is usually picked several times.

August 9, 2010

When is it time to pick pears?

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:54 am

When is the right time to pick pears?   Pears will ripen according to variety, weather and location.

picking-pears picking-pears

Pears are ready to pick when they are: 

  • firm – but the flesh is very slightly springy.
  • just turning yellowish green. If too green they will never get their best flavor.
  • just turning the seeds brown.
  • ready to come away from the tree with a slight twist & lift. If the fruit does not come off easily, the pears are not ready to pick.  

     

      pick-pears pick-pear

Pears should never be allowed to ripen on the tree because: 

  • they become gritty.
  • the area around the core turns brown, soft and mushy.

Pears ripen best off the tree.

Jargonelle is an early variety of pear which is ready in early August, Beth is usually picked in late August. 

Gorham & Merton Pride   ripen in early September.  Beurre Hardy & Onward ripen mid-September.  Beurre Superfin, Conference, Durondeau, Fertility Improved,  Seckle, Thompsons & Louise Bonne de Jersey ripen at the end of September.

Williams‘ Bon Chretien are usually picked in September.

Doyenne du Comice, Packham’s Triumph & Josephine de Malines are ripe in mid-October.  The time to pick Concorde & Winter Nelis,  late pears, is the end of October.

T

July 31, 2010

How to Pick Raspberries

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 4:40 am

Raspberries are picked by pulling them gently off the stalk so that the white hull is left behind, attached to the stalk.  The raspberries will come off easily when ripe.  If they do not leave the stalk easily they are not ready to be picked.

glen ample

glen ample

Method of Picking Raspberries:

  • gently hold the raspberry between finger and thumb
  • pull gently away from the stem
  • the raspberry should come off the stem, leaving the centre hull behind
  • place the raspberry gently into a container

The following two photos show before & after picking.  ‘Before’ has the raspberry on the stem; ‘after’ shows the whitish hull left on the stalk, after the raspberry has been picked.

rasp-before-picking

rasp-before-picking

raspberry-hull

raspberry-hull

It is important to handle the raspberries very gently, so that they remain fresh and nutritious after picking.

 

July 30, 2010

How to Pick Strawberries

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 6:50 pm

Picking strawberries is an art, if the strawberries are to remain bright and unbruised.

ElsantaStrawberry

ElsantaStrawberry

The aim is to :

  • break the strawberry stalk without actually touching the berry
  • end up with a stalk about 1 cm long attached to the strawberry
  • not squeeze the strawberry at all
strawberry-60dayElsanta

strawberry-60dayElsanta

The method of picking strawberries:

  • surround the strawberry with your hand, and with the fore-finger & thumb nail pinch the stalk about 1cm from where it is attached to the strawberry
  • twist the stalk so that it breaks off
  • let the strawberry roll into the cup of your hand so it rests gently in the palm
  • carefully place the strawberry in a bowl
  • do not overfill the container or the berries at the bottom will get squashed
PickedStrawberry

PickedStrawberry

Strawberries are very tender & bruise  easily.  Once bruised they will start to deteriorate and rot .  Bruised strawberries loose their bright appearance and the colour darkens.

The strawberry must not be held in the fingers and pulled off the strawberry bush, because the pressure of the fingers on the berry will bruise it.  It is important to pick strawberries with the hull intact by breaking the stalk!

February 2, 2010

How to pick sprouting broccoli

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , , , , , — TopVeg @ 10:19 pm
Pick the sprouting broccoli spears:

  • just before the flower buds open 

purple-broccoli-spear

purple-broccoli-spear

  • about 10cm long
sprouting-broccoli-spear

sprouting-broccoli-spear

  • when young, so very tender & not stringy
early sprouting rudolph

early sprouting rudolph

  • leaving some stem on the plant, so that the buds will produce more spears – cut & come again!

 

The central head on the sprouting broccoli plant will be larger than the side shoots, but not as big as the standard broccoli sold in the shops. This is actually calabrese – quite different from sprouting broccoli harvested in the early spring.

Cut the large central head  out before the flower buds open, when still tender. Cutting out the central head will encourage the side shoots to develop.

whitesprouting-brocoli

whitesprouting-brocoli

Pick sprouting broccoli every few days to make sure the shoots are young and tender.  It is often difficult to see the sprouts in amongst the leaves, particularly the purple sprouts, but white sprouting broccoli is easier to see and pick!

October 3, 2009

Pick Pears before the Wind

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 4:00 pm

Pick Pears before the Wind damages them.  Branches and twigs hitting the pears will bruise them and the pears will rot quickly on the tree.

basket-of-pears

basket-of-pears

We have picked several baskets of pears.

damaged-pears

damaged-pears

But the damaged, bruised and pecked pears have been seperated as they will not keep.  So we will use these first.  If we are not eating the raw pears quickly enough, I will simmer them in red wine before freezing them for a special occassion!

conference-pear

conference-pear

We have managed to pick the pears before they have been damaged by the wind.

June 8, 2009

Pick Gooseberries

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 6:53 am
gooseberry

gooseberry

Most people pick gooseberries for cooking when they have reached full size, but are
not fully ripe. Desert gooseberries change to a pinky colour and become quite soft.

For more information on the best time to pick gooseberries click these links:

March 27, 2009

How to Pick Brussels Sprouts

Filed under: brassicas — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 11:13 pm

 

sprout-stalk

sprout-stalk

Brussels Sprouts start to develop at the bottom of the main stalk first. Then the sprouts further up the stalk start to grow, and the last to develop are those sprouts at the top of the stalk.

It is important to cook even-sized sprouts , so they all require the same cooking time. If the sprout buttons were different sizes, the smallest ones would be overcooked and the largest ones may still be crunchy, when all cooked together.

brussels-sprouts

brussels-sprouts

To obtain even sized sprouts, only part of the stalk is picked. Picking always starts at the bottom of the stalk, where the sprouts are largest.

Sometimes the sprouts at the very bottom of the stalk do not develop
into tight buds, but blow out into loose leaves. It is best to remove
these loose sprouts, as soon as tight buttons appear above them.

sprbut2

sprbut2

The large, yellow leaves at the bottom of the sprout plant should be broken off and disposed of, on the compost heap.

sproutbutton

sproutbutton

 

The sprout buttons are picked individually, by pressing them downwards,
and slightly twisting, so that they snap off the stalk. Usually there
are about six sprouts on each stalk which are of a similar size.

At the start of the sprout harvesting season, the bottom sprouts will be
picked from each plant, as required.

SPROUTBRIDGET

SPROUTBRIDGET

 

At the very end of the season, the sprout stalks will look bare, with just a few sprout buttons at the very top of the stalk.

sprout-b2

sprout-b2

The Brussels sprout plants will produce green vegetables throughout the winter, if picked with care.

October 22, 2007

Bramley Apple Picking in the Garden.

Filed under: fruit — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 9:45 am
apple-basket

apple-basket

It is time to pick Bramley apples before they are damaged by frosts and birds
or blown off the tree by strong winds.

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