We are used to buying fresh fruit in the supermarket all year round, and that includes regional fruit. Apples naturally fall into this category. But that state of affairs isn’t really "natural" at all. In the past, you needed a cool cellar to be able to store fruit – and had to know which apple cultivars were “storage varieties” and kept well. These days, science can determine both the right moment for the harvest, and the individual varieties’ different storage requirements. Thanks to sophisticated climate control technology, individual varieties can be kept in a storage facility with a "controlled atmosphere" and remain fresh and crisp until the next harvest. "Controlled atmosphere" in this case means that the oxygen content is reduced to 1.4 percent in these completely airtight storage rooms. The fruit enters what you might call a state of "hibernation", and the ripening process comes to a halt.
That’s today's high-tech method of preservation. But the oldest method is dehydration – drying. For centuries, dried fruit served both as an everyday food and as a festive treat. In autumn, thousands of slices of apples and pears were dried in local ovens to preserve them. They were stored in special little fabric bags in a well-ventilated loft, or in chests known as "Hutzeltruhen" in a cool pantry.
There are dozens of regional recipes for fruit bread – which has a range of names, depending on the area. Known as Kletzn in Bavaria and Austria, Hutze or Hutzle in Alemannic, and Dörrbirne in High German, dried pears are the key ingredient in many high-calorie treats. These include Birrebrot or Birrewecke, which are often eaten at Christmas time. Dried apples were generally stewed to make compote.
All depictions: © Gemeinde Fricklingen