An Asturian Apple Harvest

Apples are to Asturias as grapes are to La Rioja.

As harvest gets underway here in the ‘Comarca de la Sidra’ (the cider ‘shire’) the orchards that densely carpet vast swathes of hillside are shaded under a heavy canopy of apple-laden branches.

The apples are plentiful this year (they come in two year cycles – a year of plenty followed by a year of scarcity) but they are smaller than usual, a result of the extreme and unusual drought that we have suffered this summer.

The harvest is performed as if by stealth. No whirring of machinery, not even a chugging tractor. Sacks, filled to the brim, silently appear alongside gates. There they sit to await collection by the lorries the cider factories will send. They will be weighed in place at the side of the road and the farmer will be paid per kilo. Not all the apples will be surrendered to the commercial cider makers, however. A certain quantity will be retained for pressing at home. No self-respecting Asturian farmer would be without a ‘llagar’ where they make and store their ‘sidra casera’ (home-made cider).

If you look closely at the photo above, however, you will just make out a ‘Cars’ backpack hastily flung on the ground alongside the sacks of apples. This will give you an indication that this particular afternoon’s apple picking was somewhat less on the silent and stealthy side and more tending towards the boisterous and ebullient.

Yes, yet again, our walk home from the school bus stop diverted off into an afternoon of foraging and frolicking in the fields.

You can tell just by looking that this boy was a huge advantage to the picking team.

Luckily, in addition to Jack and his friend, his friend’s father, aunty and granny were the prime pickers. A real family affair. Oh, and of course a stick was deployed, that most simple but effective of Asturian tools.

A truly Asturian apple harvest.

Linking up to Country Kids at Coombe Mill. Pop over to check out some more outdoors family fun www.


  1. How I wish I could grow apples where I live in the Western Algarve. I never knew they mae cider in Spain! you live and learn :)

    • Asturian Diary says:

      Asturias is prime apple growing country. Less so for citrus fruits though, they do okay on the coast and in sheltered spots but I think the Algarve’s definitely got the jump on us there!

  2. I don’t understand what they do with cider in Spain. But it is truly appalling. The commercial brands that you can buy are just disgusting. I have even taken british cider, bought at Morrisons in Gib, back to Spain because the Spanish stuff is so awful. I don’t understand why it is so bad.

    • Asturian Diary says:

      Oh, I love the Asturian cider. Virtually every bar here is a sidreria and they’re temples to Asturian cider, with the waiter or ‘escanciador’ the high priest doing the ritualistic pouring. The way you pour it is vital to drinking it at its best – a fingerful poured from a great height, splashed on the tilted rim of the glass and then drunk down in one. It’s really apple-y and totally natural, no additives. (It’s controlled by it’s own denominacion de origen) It is more like scrumpy than classic English cider though.

      • I guess it’s not a popular drink down here in AndalucĂ­a! There are only a couple of commercialised brands available in the supers, eg Mercadona, Supersol, and they really do taste feeble and chemical :( it sounds like the Asturians keep the best stuff for themselves :D

        • Asturian Diary says:

          That’s interesting. I wondered if that might be the case. You need to get yourselves up here for a visit – I think you might be converted!

          • roughseasinthemed says:

            Brrrr, not now, it might be too cold!!

          • Asturian Diary says:

            Ha ha. Today it is in fact a little on the chilly side and raining – for the first time in literally months! I was beginning to think we’d secretly been towed south.

  3. Great post!

  4. bavariansojourn says:

    Did someone say cider?? Fantastic set of pictures, and lovely words to go with them! :)

  5. That really puts our “orchard” to shame! We have half a dozen trees on a grassy slope where you can count the pickings so easily each year. Those apples look wonderful. Cider and apple pie for months to come! Thanks for linking up with Country Kids.

    • I know – same here! Our 6 apple trees limp along from year to year offering up a handful of apples but our neighbours are real pros. I’m taking tips from them but have yet to see anywhere near their results. Old established trees help, and lots of them. They got 90 sacks of apples in the end!

  6. I am awaiting the year when you start pressing your own! Mary Cidre. X

  7. Nothing says autumn like apple picking to me. Love the photos!

  8. I started to read and then I got preoccupied with thoghts of cider. Mmmm cider


  1. […] may have mentioned before, but it is Autumn in Asturias. The leaves have turned. The cider lorries collect the roadside sacks of apples daily. And round every bend on every winding back road huddles of people clutching baskets, carrier bags […]

  2. […] may have mentioned before, but it is Autumn in Asturias. The leaves have turned. Thecider lorries collect the roadside sacks of apples daily. And round every bend on every winding back road huddles of people clutching baskets, carrier bags […]

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