Thousands of apples covered the ground and still many hung from the branches. Nipped by the early hail storm, small for the year, invisible to the bugs, they were small, pocked, and perfect. Piles went in to a bag for apple sauce, a pile of bruised ones for the chickens, and a pile for Nancy (who is my fellow lover of canning). Even with all those pounds of apples taken, it looked like the apples replenished themselves before our very eyes, for no spaces on the ground or on the branches were seen. The amount of apples this year were astonishing.
We picked out two year old trees, ones the girl at the nursery said might actually produce an apple or two for us this year. Very exciting! Two apples and a plum tree set off in the back of the truck for new lands, our back yard. We planted them with an existing, much rejected apple tree in the back yard, which was not much bigger. The large apple tree next door laughed. But I shall have the last laugh, I thought, as I envisioned myself picking luscious apples off of the new trees. Savoring the fruit of our hands…and prayers. God forgot to send me a memo about watering. For the first few months I watched and if it rained (ever so pittantly this year) I didn’t water. If it didn’t, I would lug out a five gallon container of water and give each tree a nice drink…like a once a week. It must have been a tease for them once farmer’s markets started for our trees did not get the proper water they should have and the drought didn’t help the cute little mini forest either. They are alas still standing and trying not to be dead. Not sure what the mysterious holes at their base are either, I hope not voles. So, here with the ground in snow and Christmas presents to wrap, my mind wanders to next year’s garden and orchard, as it does every year upon year; next year will be the best year ever! Because by golly, despite the amazingly high water prices out here, I want an orchard. How much do you water trees?
All those apples were from my Great-Aunt Donna’s yard. She is an amazing grower, a Master Gardener, 85 years old, spry as they come and I hope future generations will speak of me the way I speak of her and will come to my yard to gather piles of apples.
Ginger Spiced Apple Sauce
You don’t even need a recipe for this. You cannot mess it up. Throw all the apples in the pan (I do not peel them, just take out the core) and add a bit of apple juice to keep it from sticking to the bottom before the natural juices come out, just a big splash now, not too much. You don’t have to add sugar, apples are quite sweet, but I do fancy a little honey or brown sugar in mine. Cook this down over medium heat until you are able to put an immersion blender in and get it nice and thick and a little chunky. (My immersion blender will have to be replaced with a food mill for our homestead) Add in a big spoonful of pumpkin pie spice and about half of that spoon of powdered ginger. Taste and adjust flavors. A pinch of salt wouldn’t hurt. You can eat the sauce just like this or you can can it. Ladle into pint jars and replace the lid (I cheat and only rinse the jars and lids in really hot water) and boil in a pot of water that covers the jars for 17 minutes at our altitude. (10 minutes for sea level and add one minute per 1000 ft of altitude.) Yum. Not too late to go get some apples and make this delicious sauce.