In April 2017, frost killed most of the early developing blossoms and young leaves on trees and brushes, damaging crops significantly in most areas in Germany.
Nature is truly amazing. In contrast, during the spring of 2018 all fruit trees flowered abundantly and the harvest yielded record results.
The Swabian people in general are very business savvy, diligent and parsimonious — they hate to see anything to waste — but there was simply too much fruit to pick it all.
Trees that the owners could not pick any more were marked with yellow ribbons, signaling that anyone could take as much fruit as they wished. Since everyone was already flooded with apples, apple juice, apple wine and apple sauce, not all fruit got picked. At least Hedgehogs, birds, moles and marten were enjoying the feast. Many beneficial insects also use the fallen fruit as food.
I grew up in the Taunus, a mountain range in Hesse, Germany located north of Frankfurt. When I was little, my parents and I went apple picking together with my cousins in the close-by orchards.
They obtained a license first, since taking fruit from the orchard trees without authorization is considered food theft. The apples were taken to the local Mosterei (a cider brewery) and turned into apple juice and cider, which is very popular in the area. It feels very homey to live again in an area where apples and their products are a key part of the landscape and economy.
Nowadays we buy our local juices at a cider brewery, Getränke Stollen, in Beuren:
They have an honor system in place, so one can stop by to pick up some juice in the middle of the night and leave the money in the cash box.