This is a tray of figs my dad and I harvested in just a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon at the beginning of October. Surprisingly enough the fig tree seems to be giving us a lot of fruit this year. Every weekend there are more figs to harvest. And we leave plenty of the fruits behind on the trees because they’re still to green, or they’ve been eaten by birds already. Actually the figs are one of the hardest fruits to harvest because the tree is so fragile. If you pull the branches to far they’ll break, although it’s quite flexible. In other words, you can never put too much pressure on its branches and you can’t even climb it, so with a bit of care and climbing up a ladder we manage to get to the very top of the tree. My dad will be trimming it at the appropriate time.
The picture above shows the quinces we managed to harvest this year. We left it a bit late so we didn’t get as many as last year. Many of them were already half eaten by birds, or rotting on the tree. The ones in the basket in the photo were the only ones that were still in good condition. Saying this, the majority of the ones we did get weighed about 500-800 grams. If any of you have any quinces readily available, you might want to try make your own quince liquor, it’s quite easy really, just follow the recipe below:
You will need the following items/ingredients:
A large glass jar (preferably the kinds used for preserves with the rubber seal) ;
A bottle of Vodka (or if you prefer, RUM) ;
sugar (approximately 200 g) ;
a vanilla pod (cut in half but don’t remove the seeds) ;
a handful of almonds ;
three medium sized quinces
1. Peel and cut the quinces into to bite size chunks
2. pour 1/4 of the sugar into the jar, followed by the vanilla pod and the almonds
3. fill the jar with the quince chunks to about half way and then add 2/4 of the sugar followed by the remaining chunks of quinces, making sure to really queeze them in there.
4. once you’ve filled up the whole jar with the quinces, add the remaining sugar before pouring in the vodka/rum
Leave to settle before sealing/closing the jar, you might have to fill it up with more vodka/rum. Once you’re convinced it’s 100% full and can’t take any more vodka/rum, seal/close it and put it in a dark place (the pantry) for 10 weeks. You will need to shake the jar lightly every 2-3 days to get the sugar to dissolve completely.
Now at the end of the 10 weeks, you can either pour the liquid into another bottle, or leave it as is, and use it whenever you like. The quinces are 100% edible, and taste really nice.
We did this last year and they came out great, we used Vodka last year, this year my mum made several more jars using vodka, but she also tried one jar with rum to see what the difference is and which one we like the best. The ones we made will be ready around Christmas time, so I’ll let you know my preferences. But in the meantime, I’d say go ahead and try it out.
The photo above is just to show the difference in size of the figs and quinces. The figs were small about 5cm in height at the most, but delicious. Next year we’re going to try drying them during the summer so that we have our own dried fruit at Christmas. We didn’t think about it until it was too late because the sun isn’t giving off as much heat now as it was during the summer months.
The first weekend of October was a long weekend here in Portugal, so my dad asked me to come over and help him pick the grapes. So that’s what I did, although it wasn’t easy let me tell you. Becuase everything has been allowed to run rampant for years, the vines have continued to grow, and so they’ve grown into the trees and all the best grapes are at the top of the trees, so after getting all the ones that were easy to get at, we got the ladder out and started climbing trees and gently pulling the vine out of the tree. These 3 barrels were just the first day’s harvest. At the end of the day we made sweet wine from one of the barrels and then filled up another 4 barrels the 2nd day. My dad has now finished making the sweet wine and has bottled it up already, pretty though it will turn sour. I like the sweet wine, it tastes just like grape juice, although slightly thicker. Hopefully next year we’ll get a better harvest with plumper grapes, as we’re radically cutting the vines so that they don’t grow into trees again.