Saturday, 10 October 2015

Apple time down south of Warsaw

When the sun shines like this in October, one must leave town and take a look at the orchards that stretch in a wide, deep, belt centred on the town of Grójec. Of all apples grown in Poland (and that's a lot), 35% come from around Grójec. They are red, large, sweet, acidic, high in antioxidants and very tasty. The combination of warm summers and early frosts (this morning it was -1C) creates an apple that is far superior in taste to those from further south in Europe.

As you travel around the region, you see orchards everywhere. The dwarf trees are grown to ensure easy pickings; farmers use special narrow tractors that can work their way up and down the rows.


These photos were taken many kilometres apart, yet the landscape is the same; so many orchards, so many trees, so many apples. (Meanwhile our own apple tree at home in Jeziorki has borne no fruit - not a single apple - this year, after a bumper summer in 2014).


All over southern Mazowsze there are posters for labour agencies advertising Ukrainian workers for hire for seasonal fruit-picking. These are crucial days - the weather will turn nasty in coming days. Sleet is forecast for Tuesday.


Below: Leżne, picking is under way, an apple train awaits the freshly picked fruit. These custom-built apple trains are everywhere.


Below: Łychów, punkt skupu ('purchase point'). These are dotted around the region, attracting trains of containers full of apples. There are weighbridges, fork-lift trucks, and heavy-goods trailers that will take the apples to food-processing factories.


Below: Mogielnica, some 20km south-west of Grójec. An empty apple train heading back from the punkt skupu. Current prices are surprisingly strong despite the Russian embargo, with 'industrial apples' (jabłko przemysłowe) fetching around 50 grosze (9p) per kilo, and top-quality eating apples, sorted and properly handled, at 90 grosze (16p) per kilo. Then there's the wholesaler's and retailer's mark-up, and we consumers end up paying around 1.50 złotys - 2.50 złotys a kilo of eating apples in the shops. Wonderful juice-in-a-box (five kilo of industrial apple makes three litres of juice) costs around 12 złotys retail for a three-litre box.


Below: Mogielnica. A once-a-year payday has its costs.


This time last year:
Poland gets anglicised as Britain gets polonised

This time two years ago:
Ale, architecture and city politics

This time three years ago:
The pros and cons of roadside acoustic screens

This time four years ago:
Moaning about trains again

This time five years ago:
Warsaw streets - Dolna, Polna, Rolna, Smolna, Wolna. Lost?

This time seven years ago:
Ditches, landscapes, autumn

This time eight years ago:
Golden autumn in Łazienki park

2 comments:

Neighbour said...

Michael,

Re. your own apple tree - at least some of them have fruits every two years. I have the same.
Someone told me to shake-off flowers from the same half of the tree after they are blooming, for a few years and then the tree should "learn" to bloom one side in one year and the other one the following.
I have never tried this but thisadvise was from someone living south of Góra Kalwaria, with his own orchard, like those you've visited today.

Best regards,
Neighbour

Adam K. said...

Michał - recently visited an orchard with the Montessori school I teach at and found out a couple of interesting things - first was how to pick apples properly so as their stalks stay on (meaning they'll stay good for longer and so as not damage/pull off the tree buds, which start forming early) and recieved confirmation as to why fruit tree trunks are often painted white (I'm responsible for the existing wiki entry on the subject).
Do you know the answers to these questions? :)