Food bloggers on tour to Keeling’s orchards in Dublin
I was a tiny bit concerned that the planned trip to Keeling’s would be cancelled when I saw the torrential rain last Thursday and Friday, but the weather gods smiled on us with blue sky and sunshine from early in the morning on Saturday. Keeling’s is huge!! It took a couple of attempts to find the right place and after we were all greeted by Keeling’s marketing manager, Fiona Fitzgerald, we headed off for the orchard. We were shown around the beautiful orchard by James who is the technical manager on the site.
It is inspiring to hear about the progressive work that this local Irish grower is undertaking. Keelings are constantly trialling new varieties of apples to see how they grow in the Irish climate and are about to plant a new orchard. We heard about how the Irish consumer makes choices about apples and the work that is taking place to promote choosing Irish produce. It was also great to see how natural the whole process is, I love the idea that all the windfalls are left on the ground, in order to greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen that would need to be added the following year if they were not left there to rot.
Our group then moved inside to the packing area where the apples are washed and graded and then bagged for the relevant stores.
These very appealing extra large Bramleys were being packed for M&S.
Trisha Doyle then demonstrated a pork, potato and apple bake for us back at the base and we then enjoyed a delicious lunch, cooked by Trisha, washed down with David Llewellyn’s excellent apple juice.
We left with goody bags filled with the last Irish grown strawberries of the year and Bramley apples to be creative with. My Bramleys were slow roasted for a couple of hours on a low heat, soft inside but not falling apart. Then cut in half and topped with a cinnamon biscuit topping made with spelt flour and ground almonds, and then baked for a further 20 minutes to cook the topping. Lovely day, thanks so much to Keelings and Bord Bia.