Serving the people of Raunds

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Community Orchard

The Orchard was planted in 2022 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee and The Queen's Green Canopy by Raunds Town Council. It houses 11 types of fruit and nut trees alongside two Oak trees to mark the centre. There are over 100 trees in the Orchard, comprising of Sweet Chestnut, Hazelnut, Medlar, Charles Ross Apple, Williams Pear, Plum, Walnut, Cherry, Almond, Cox's Orange Pippin Apple and Conference Pear. This Orchard is used by local schools and groups to aid learning in the community about fruits and nuts, and how they are grown.

Please see below the details on how to spot the different trees and when the fruit and nuts are ready to be harvested.

Cherry

LOOK FOR

Large, shiny green leaves in an oval shape with a point at the tip. The leaves are toothed and turn yellow with a hint of red in the autumn.

Their bark is brown to grey with green from algae or lichen. It has some shiny areas and what looks like horizontal scars or cuts that are called lenticels.

The white flowers appear before the leaves in spring between mid-March and mid-April and are similar to those of bird cherry, dog rose and blackthorn.

The fruit are red to dark-red, round and hang in clusters on long stalks. They are edible, with one stone inside.

HARVEST TIME

July

Plum

LOOK FOR

Leaves - commonly oval with a short point at the top or tear dropped-shaped.

Tree - it is a deciduous tree with dark-brown bark.

Flowers - these are white and appear in clusters of 2-3 at the same time as the leaves.

Fruit - smooth, hairless and round to oblong shaped, each fruit contains one stane which is flat and slightly pitted.

HARVEST TIME

Plums ripen between late August and early September.

If they feel soft when gently squeezed then they are ripe.

Watch out for maggots or eggs hiding in the plums, look for holes in the skin or cut open to see if there are any black eggs around the stone.

Almond

LOOK FOR

Straight tree truck and wide spreading branches

Lots of small pale pink or white flowers in late winter and early spring, before the leaves open.

Leaves are dark green, lance-shaped with serrated edges.

Large, rounded, green fruit forms during the summer and matures in the autumn, forming velvety cases that enclose the almond nuts.

HARVEST TIME

The signal to begin harvesting is once the fruit capsules start to split, this is usually between August -September. This enables you to shake the almond out of the hull.

For those that haven't split but have been picked, spread the fruits on a dry, sunny windowsill or bench indoors for several weeks, this makes it easier to split the fruits and remove the nuts.

Charles Ross Apple

LOOK FOR

Greenish-yellow, flushed red and striped, these apples are slightly larger than usual.

HARVEST TIME

These are ripe and ready to be eaten from mid September.

Cox's Orange Pippin Apple

LOOK FOR

This is a small greeny-yellow fruit with lots of orange and red over the top. The longer these apples are on the tree, the redder they get.

HARVEST TIME

Coxes are ripe and ready to be eaten from mid-September to mid-October.

Tip - you will know when they are ready, because their stalks will easily detach from the shoots.

Williams Pear

LOOK FOR

Small glossy green leaves that grow up to 8cm long and are thick.

Blossom is in April - May.

The fruit is bell shaped with green skin until it turns yellow upon ripening.

HARVEST TIME

Williams Pears are ready to eat in September. They can be eaten either raw or cooked.

Conference Pear

LOOK FOR

Small glossy green leaves that grow up to 8cm long and are thick.

Blossom is in April - May.

The fruit has a long conical shape with light brown skin with a green background. The fruit tastes grainy, sweet and juicy when ripe, if eaten just before its fully ripe it has a crunch to it and is slightly acidic.

HARVEST TIME

Conference pears are best picked when they are slightly under ripe, if they are left to ripen on the trees they will go mushy on the inside. I good way to judge if it ready to harvest is if a few pears have dropped to the floor. This will usually be to eat in September and can be eaten either raw or cooked.

Hazelnut

LOOK FOR

Hazel trees has shiny, brown bark and round to oval, doubly toothed, leaves with soft hairs on their undersides and pointed at the tip. In the spring they display long yellow catkins and in late summer; a crop of hazelnuts.

HARVEST TIME

Hazelnuts begin to ripen as the hazel tree leaves change colour, so usually between September and October.

If you wish to get them before all the animals, pick them when they are green and leave them to ripen in a warm, dry, dark place, making sure to move them often.

BEFORE EATING

Hazelnuts are only edible to humans once the nuts have grown to full maturity and have dried out and the papery outer covering starts pulling back from the nut.

Before eating crack open the hard shell, then enjoy the nut found inside.

SERVING SUGGESTION

Hazelnuts are fantastic raw as a healthy snack or chopped up and popped into salads for an extra crunch. You can even grind them finely as flour for baking.

WHO'S EATING THE NUTS

Wildlife love hazelnuts! By looking at the shells of the discarded hazelnuts you can tell a lot about the animals that live here.

Squirrels have strong jaws and can split the nuts neatly in half.

Common Dormice leave a smooth, round hole in the side of the nut, with teeth marks running around the inside of the hole.

Wood Mice leave teeth marks on the surface of the nut and across the edge of the hole. The hold may be either circular or ragged in shape.

Bank Voles create a round hole but the teeth marks are across the edge of the shell not on the surface. This can take them up to 20 minutes! They'll often take the nut somewhere they feel safer, so you might discover collections of nuts under logs or leaves.

Birds - If you find irregular shards of the outer casing underneath a tree, they could have been left by birds. Woodpeckers and nuthatches will push hazelnuts into crevices to stabilise the nut so they can hammer at them more easily.

Walnut

LOOK FOR

Short tree trunk, smooth bark that is olive-brown when young, developing fissures and fading to silver-grey with age.

Twigs are stout, green and curving.

If you crush the leaves they smell like polish.

Leaves are shiny and arranged feather-like, with 5-9 paired oval leaflets and one leaf at the end.

Flowers - male flowers are drooping yellow-green catkins, 5-10cm long, and the female flowers appear in clusters of 2-5. The female flowers turn into fruits with a green, fleshy husk and a brown, wrinkled walnut inside.

HARVEST TIME

The nuts ripen in mid-autumn and should fall naturally from the tree. They can be picked from the tree, shaken or knocked out when the husks begin cracking. If they fall to the ground and the husks are still intact they will continue to ripen off the tree.

PREPARING TO EAT

Remove the green husks as soon as possible, make sure you are wearing rubber gloves otherwise your hands will be stained dark brown.

Slit the husks all around with a sharp knife to gently prize them apart.

Lay the kernels to dry on several layers of newspaper in a warm sunning room for about three days, turning over several times. After this they are ready to eat.

Sweet Chestnut

LOOK FOR

Sweet Chestnuts are covered in a green shell with lots of fine spikes almost like a green hedgehog - not to be confused with horse chestnuts (conkers) that are poisonous to eat and are also covered in a green shell but have short stumpy spikes.

HARVEST TIME

End of September - to mid November

COOKING SUGGESTION

STEP 1

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put each chestnut flat-side down on a chopping board. Hold the chestnut carefully and, using a sharp knife, cut a long slit or a cross in the top. Make sure you cut through the shell but not the nut inside.

STEP 2

Tip the nuts onto a baking sheet or into a roasting tin and arrange them cut-side up. Roast for 30 mins.

STEP 3

Leave the nuts in the tin to cool down to warm – they will be very hot inside. Put a board on top of the tin while they cool to trap the steam and make them easier to peel. Serve as they are for people to peel, or peel them yourself to use in a recipe.

STEP 4

If you peel them, you may want to remove the inner, slightly fluffy, membrane as well. If the membrane is difficult to get off (it shouldn't be if you steam them as they cool), you can soak the nuts in boiling water for a minute to loosen. Drain and peel.

Medlar

LOOK FOR

Twigs roughly hairy. Leaves shiny green above, grey hairy beneath. Beautiful late-spring to early-summer blossom. The flowers have 5 white or pink petals and behind the flower are 5 green sepals, which become prominent when the fruit is formed.

The edible fruits are an acquired taste and tart if eaten raw, however they make pleasantly flavoured jellies or desserts and can be used to make wine.

HARVEST TIME

After first frost.

The fruit is hard and bitter until it ripens as a result of exposure to frost or having been kept for a long time. This process is called bletting. The interior then looks rotten, like a pulp, but is perfectly edible.

Last updated: Tue, 17 Jan 2023 14:00