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Thoughts from category: ingredients

apple season is underway

The apple season is underway, so last week we headed out to the orchard to have a look at the apples that will end up in our drinks. 

Here's a picture of our Rowena, Fliss and Catherine in the orchard. (We seem to have caught Fliss in the middle of tasting an apple, sorry.)

We were there to taste the apples and find out how this year's harvest is looking. Highlights of our trip included riding on tractors around the orchard, and of course tasting the apples straight from the trees. Lowlights included the compulsory dungarees.

We saw how after every seven apple trees there's a gap, where a berry bush has been planted - that's for the birds, so they don't go hungry in the winter. 

We saw for ourselves how the trees are fed, watered, drained, pruned and harvested, and chatted about various philosophies on growing apples. We especially liked learning about the school of thought that says that apple trees should be planted among wildflowers, which helps draw the nitrogen into the soil, and is great for bees, who pollenate the apple trees. It's part of a holistic approach, looking at the orchard as a whole ecosystem, which increasing numbers of growers are adopting. Makes a lot of sense. 

There will be further trips out to see and taste the apples and learn more later in the season, but in the meantime we’re very happy with the way the apples are tasting this year. 

a proper feastival

Feastival

The excellent Anna Jones (who created the recipes for our new family recipe book, Hungry?) came along with me to Jamie Oliver’s Feastival on Clapham Common last weekend to talk about the book, make some recipes with kids and dust off the old Blendavenda smoothie bike.

Jamie

Here we are before the carnage ensued

Hungry

Fruit prepped, ingredients laid out and head mikes donned, we got kids making the old bread and squashed tomato salad and fruit mess recipes from the book and then followed it with a bun fight to see who got to pedal the smoothie bike first

Kids

Though the fighting was mainly amongst all the mums and dads trying to have a go.

Thanks to everyone who came along, squashed, pedalled and ate the results.

Hopefully we'll be going along to more things like this over the summer and we'll be sure to give you plenty of warning the next time we do

a buzzy saturday afternoon

On Saturday, I went along to Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire to meet our bee competition winner Julian, Tim the beekeeper and Neil the Head Gardener for an afternoon of bees, bees and more bees.

Hanbury 2

Julian, Neil and Tim

We had a tour of the beautiful gardens and grounds from Neil (including the mushroom house) and then Tim gave us an introduction to bee keeping.

Tim

Bee lesson

Honey

Tim has 8 hives at Hanbury Hall which this year yielded 250 jars of honey. He taught us how to hold a frame, how a hive works and how to mark a queen bee when you spot her.

Beepens
Bee pens

Then it was on with the bee suits

Bee suit

Bee man

Julian got to wear the suit as paid for by the proceeds of Buy One Get One Bee whilst I had to wear a suit for a 10 year old as there were no adult bee suits left.

Bees knees

Once suited, we then got to inspect the innocent hive and meet some bees.

Bee time

Hive

The innocent hive

After meeting the bees and asking more home beekeeping questions, we all got given a jar of Tim's honey

Yummy honey

Teatea

And then Julian and his wife, Nicky went off for a proper afternoon tea (though sadly the chocolate potato cake had sold out).

Tea

We've made a little film of the day (including Tim answering lots of your questions) so watch this space for the official premiere.

For now though, massive thanks to Tim, Neil and the catering staff at Hanbury Hall for such a brilliant afternoon, to Julian and Nicky for being such enthusiastic winners and to my mum for being an excellent camera assistant.

Innocent hive

Here's to Buy One Get One Bee coming back again next year.

the fruit gallery

Every year our Fruit team have an in-house competition to take the best photos whilst out and about, sourcing the globe for the finest fruits to go in our smoothies.

There are currently around 189 categories in the competition(so that Simon can win at least one of them) and we thought you might like to see a few of the winners.

There's the best photo of fruit on and off the tree

Fruit on tree

(Cherries taken by Rozanne)

Banana

(Bananas taken by Atha)

The best photo of a team member at leisure

SL - Best Fruit Member at Leisure

(Sam in Verona)

Fruit team member at leisure

(Dan with the pizza machete)

And the best photo taken from moving car window (to mention but a few)

Car window

(Taken by Simon somewhere in Florida)

We're going to be putting together an online gallery of all their best shots so you can find out a bit more about the stories around the fruit we use. So make sure you keep watching this space.

For now though, here's the overall winning photo from the 2009 competition

SL - Best OVERALL - I love you Ceri

It's of one of our apple growers, Christian (he's the one infront of the tractor, holding the apple, just to right of the shaggy haired fellow) and was taken by our Siobhan (pictured below)

Shiv
More to come from our budding Rankins and David Bailey's very very soon.