Coddled Apples

Q. What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? A. Finding half a worm in your apple.

They’re not really worms, of course – they’re coddling moth grubs.

A lot of our apples are coddled – that is, they have coddling moth grubs in them.

We have four apple trees in our back garden. We used to have five, but the apples on one of them weren’t very nice, and three years ago I cut it down and planted two peach trees in its place (from peach stones, not saplings from a nursery).

There isn’t really room there for two fully grown peach trees, but when they get bigger I’ll choose one and cut the other down. Last year each tree produced four peaches; this year one of them produced about a hundred peaches – very nice ones – and the other only produced four again, and they all rotted before they ripened. But there’s still room for both trees, so I won’t cut either of them just yet.

The other apple trees all produce nice apples, each a different variety. One of them looks like a Bramley tree, and the apples it produces look like Bramleys. They’re typically around 400gm apiece – one of them once was over 500gm! – but they’re not ordinary Bramleys, which are definitely cooking apples. In a good year, these are really tasty eating apples.

As I said, a lot of our apples are coddled, but we don’t mind. With four apple trees, in season we have more apples than we can eat. I eat six or seven – one or two of them 400gm ones – every day for several weeks. We can spare a few for the coddling moths!

Actually, about as many are damaged by earwigs as by coddling moths.

Sometimes you can see from the outside that an apple is coddled or earwigged; sometimes you can’t. I don’t suppose coddling moth grubs carry any unpleasant diseases, but earwigs can nip painfully and anyway I don’t fancy eating them. So I cut all our apples up before eating them. Only the worst cases get composted in their entirety, otherwise even fairly badly infested apples provide several clean chunks to eat. Interestingly, coddled apples seem to be sweeter than otherwise similar apples from the same tree – do coddling moth grubs produce some hormone or something to induce the tree to feed them better, I wonder?

We used to keep chickens. When we had chickens at apple time, they had a ball – they love apple cores and the coddled bits of apples. I think they like the coddling moth grubs especially. (Incidentally, they also like worms. They loved it when I was digging the vegetable patch and chucked worms into the hen run.)

I really don’t mind the coddling moths or the earwigs – and I’d certainly sooner have them than have my apples smothered in toxic chemicals.

My friend Ian has provided this link for me, providing detailed information about the use of pesticides on farms: (It’s a safe link, I’ve checked it, with links to all sorts of interesting information.)

When I originally published this on deviantart, it led to the following exchange, which I thought worth mirroring here:

Molly: Do you sell or give away a lot of apples?
Me: You can’t sell coddled apples, nobody will buy them! And you can’t always tell an apple is coddled until you cut it open. We do give some away sometimes, but even that isn’t easy – you have to warn people! Mostly we eat them ourselves. The freezer will be full of stewed apples before long!
Molly: Oh, I see. But if you eat them, then other people can too. :D
Guess they won’t pay for them, though. :XD:
Me: “...if you eat them, then other people can too.”
This is akin to something I keep telling people in England, “If other people eat them, we can too.” I eat the local food wherever I go; some English people think this is a risky policy. Ho hum, I ain’t died yet.
Molly:  Hehe, people think local food is somehow more dangerous than the processed stuff... :XD:
Me: Of course in some ways it is, slightly, particularly for people who haven’t grown up with it* – and in other (mostly longer term) ways, the processed stuff is more dangerous.
*That is, survived a childhood of it, by not being susceptible to any of its allergens, and developing immunity to all its particular pathogens.
[2016: we no longer keep stewed apples (and pears, and blackberries) in the freezer: we’ve learnt how to preserve them in sealed jars. Not expensive, fancy jars: it’s cheaper to buy a jar full of pickled beetroot or gherkins than to buy an empty jar, and they’re easy to reuse.]