A couple of months ago, I received the offer to participate in the annual Jablkobraní event organized by the organization Na ovoce.
The event would take place the 18th of September, of the current year, whoever wanted to participate would have to go to the "Klíčovské sady" forest, where they could pick apples and then process them as jam, must, dry them or just keep them as a snack for later.
My participation in this event would be to lead the fruit drying workshop, in which those attending the event would bring their apples, they would peel them and organize them in order to dry them for later consumption.
Considering that in my PhD I research coffee drying, the proposal seemed very interesting to me so I could learn new drying techniques, processes and at the same time have a good weekend... however there was a catch, the whole workshop should be carried out in Czech, an understandable requirement which for me as a foreigner was quite scary considering that I speak Czech at a basic level of conversation, therefore, I was not sure if I was able to do the workshop under such conditions.
After a couple of days of thinking about it and a self-inner debate, I started to see this situation as a unique opportunity to test myself and overcome this nonsense failing fear: I accepted the proposal and started to train and study everything I had to do.
The dryer house works as a public drying unit, it holds outer trays where anyone can arrange the product to be dried, the products can be collected upon reaching the desired moisture content. Three days before the event, the organizer contacted me and asked me if I could prepare a one-hour speech about tropical fruit drying, lyophilization and seed drying. I was again a bit scared but happy to have some space to share my knowledge and learn directly from the attendees.
The day finally came, the event was simply incredible, families picking apples, little kids squeezing fruits and non-stop drinking the sweetest golden juice, grandparents doing jam and drying all kind of fruits to have nice treats for the winter. Food, bonfires, drinks and music filled the atmosphere with a laid back and friendly energy. During my speech I learned a lot from each one of the attendees, and more than an academic talk it was an affable chat where we laughed, ate, and discussed million topics from different perspectives.
More information here.
Eduardo Duque Dussán
Photo: Richard Hodonicky