Roland schonmuller kronach- many a village in the frankenwald was once surrounded by fruit orchards. But today, only a few places are still bordered by fruit trees. The reason: the garden became building land, storms killed the gnarled trees, and the drought did its part. The fruit-giving flowers sprout their tempting fragrances less and less often in the springtime& co.
In the fall, the orchards on the green meadow strips once presented plenty of fruit, especially apples and pears. "They used to cover the needs of the farmers for the whole year!" tells an old man from the northern franconian forest. Already in the spring the many blossoming fruit trees formed a shining wreath around one or the other village. The variety of special fruit crops was sometimes named already at the time of the foundation of the place and its settlement, for example in birnbaum (pear tree) or effelter (apple tree).
Cherry, plum, pear and apple trees required little care. Every few years they were "cleaned out". Thirsty branches and abundant twigs were removed and burned. No special fertilization was necessary. Old, broken trees were canceled in late fall and replaced by new plantings in the spring. Fruit trees of all ages were thus discovered in the crops again and again. Hollow trees were used for nesting and breeding, as well as for owls and hornets.
Young trees were bought in tree nurseries. The art of grafting was obtained from local experts. Apple trees were usually in abundance. Here, candy apples and cider apples roughly balanced each other out. The cider apples were small and contained a lot of sour jam. The apples to eat were available in france in many varieties and in the most different flavors.
Unfortunately, many of these varieties have disappeared and with them a wonderful variety of flavors has passed away. Summer or early apples were also a special but rare specialty in the franconian forest, they were well known to the village youth and many an owner could never count on a rough harvest despite a certain amount of supervision.
With ladder and sticks
At the end of september till the middle of october came the time of apple harvesting. Off we went with wagons and ladders, poles, baskets and empty sacks to the fruit trees which were richly endowed with fruit. Arriving in the orchards, one carefully placed the ladder on a tree and tied a sack around the shoulder so that the picker had the opening in front of him. Now it was time to climb up and not get dizzy. The delicious smelling apples were picked carefully. When the bag became too heavy, the picker descended and carefully emptied the contents into a basket, bucket or flat-bottomed lorry. The last apples, which could no longer be reached by hand, were peeled off or only cut off with a pole and filled into a bag as cider fruit.
At home, strong arms carried the baskets to the storehouse, the apple room or the frost-free cellar, where they remained fresh until well into spring. The scent of fresh apples soon filled the whole house. "It was not uncommon for many an easter nest to contain a nice, red-cheeked apple," recalls another senior citizen, reports an old frankenwald farmer with a smile.
Throughout the winter apples were important food ingredients. The coarse mother scraped herself an apple every day with a knife, because she could no longer eat due to her missing teeth. "For us schoolchildren, apples and dry bread were a common "snack" at break time, remembers another senior. On many winter evenings the smell of roasted apples filled many a peasant or country living room. Besides some mother needed the apples for cooking and baking. Apple porridge, apple pie and "opflblotz enriched the autumn and winter menu.
There were significantly fewer pear trees. Freshly picked they tasted wonderful. But their storage capacity was limited. Besides apples and pears, the plum tree was also present in many places. Frankish home plums were quite small and very sub, but tasted delicious – if they were not already wormy fruit. Plums were used in many ways: baked ("kwetschablotz"), plum pudding and plum cake.-jam or as schnapps.
Cherry trees, walnut trees, plums and ringless (renekloden) once completed the fruit spectrum of many frankenwald-villagers. They stood in house gardens or at the edge of the village and were a desired extension of the village fruit supply.
Dried and parched
The limited shelf life of all fruits was a disadvantage. This deficiency could be counteracted by drying or drying out. The water evaporated and the remaining pulp was preserved by a high sugar content. Welcome treats in winter were dried apple pieces kept in linen bags, roasted pear pieces and dried plums (hutzeln).
In october the herb harvest took place and the so called preserving began. First came the hullblatter away and the "dorsch" (strunk) was singled out. After the herb heads had been stored for some time, it was time to "preserve" them. Layer after layer was removed with a weed planer. The cut fell into the "stucht" (clay barrel) and was stamped with powerful wooden stamps. "In between, the mother always sprinkled a layer of salt, a layer of herb, a layer of salt! Soon the ‘stucht’ was three-quarters full", a rustic farmer reports enthusiastically. Now suitably cut planks were laid on top as a finishing touch. A powerful stone pressed the wooden plate down firmly.
After some time the kraut was fermented and the sauerkraut was created. Throughout the winter, there was hardly a week without a herb dish on the table. Some housewives say: "the more often you clean it, the better it will be"!" in the vitamin-poor food of the winter months the sauerkraut was a very important donor of vitamins and other necessary substances. The menu did not lack savoy cabbage, blue cabbage, yellow grape and endive, which waited in frost-proof rooms in the damp sand or in the earth wrapped for preparation. So at least until christmas we still had salad and vegetables.
All in all, in the old days, autumn was not only a time of hard work in the woods and meadows, in the fields and meadows, but also in the garden and in the house, a time that had a lasting effect and was associated with many fond memories.