Apple Harvest Day

We bumped the wagon haphazardly over the irrigation ditches to get to the next row of apple trees. Many were long picked over but there were still a few varietals heavy with fruit. Old to ancient apple trees lined many acres in perfect rows.

We are in the planning stages of our new farm. Where do we want to put the fruit trees? We will set up a separate area for them instead of just throwing them into the yard. In past houses, if they survived, they were in the middle of garden beds and mowing paths.

Ayla tried to take a bite of apple and smiled that huge, jack o’lantern grin. She opted for a stick instead. Maryjane picked out a white, Lumina pumpkin (our family favorite), and helped me harvest apples as Emily snapped photos.

My granddaughters are so beautiful!

Third Street Apples is a real treat. Pick all the apples you wish and then pay per pound less than sale priced grocery store apples shipped in from Venezuela (or wherever). Support local farms and have a ball doing it! Maryjane sat in the grass watching a ladybug crawl around the top of her apple.

I filled my apron with apples, so Maryjane gathered her shirt and did the same. That child is efficient, for when she poured her apples into the basket, it overflowed! I have a lot of apples to process now. I am not very good at making pies, I am afraid. A farmgirl skill I need to perfect, but I can make one, or maybe a tart. I will can apple sauce (see my recipe here), but I am the only one who likes apple sauce so maybe I will juice some as well. Oh! I can make apple wine, or freeze some apples. I will decide what to do soon, but in the meantime, I had a lovely day at a local farm with my granddaughters and my daughter making memories.

And in a few years, the children will be harvesting from our own family orchard. What is your favorite thing to do with apples?

The Apple Harvest (and the sweetness of family)

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Aunt Donna invited us over to pick up firewood and to pick apples.  She could have invited a hundred people over for apples.  Her tree was so heavy laden with gloriously delicious apples that I rather fear a good many up high will go to waste.  After biting into the scrumptious orb I realized that the wonderful three boxes gifted to us from friends almost two months ago were not ripe.  I spent hours and hours in the kitchen prepping and canning and making apple sauce all to realize that they came out rather sour.  Healthy and still good, but I should have been patient.  Apples are to be picked in the latter part of September and into October.

Emily, Maryjane, Grandma, Me, and Grandma's sister, Donna last year at the grape harvest.

Emily, Maryjane, Grandma, Me, and Grandma’s sister, Donna last year at the grape harvest.

You have been to Aunt Donna’s with me before.  We went last year to join in the harvest of her bountiful grapes which we made jugs of delicious juice from. This year the vines hold little and the little apple tree that was average last year has outdone itself with bounty.  Next year we shouldn’t expect apples.  There is an ebb and flow to everything, I realize.  Droughts, rains, snows….heat, cool….last year the tomatoes were plentiful, this year the cold crops did exceptionally well.  It is a good representation of life.  Our lives are a constant ebb and flow of births, deaths, good times, sad times, memories, and moments.  Each day precious.  And what a glorious day to be at my beautiful aunt’s house, the one who helped inspire my farming and has answered questions over the years.

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Maryjane is an excellent harvester.  She at times surprises me with how intelligent she is.  She is so tiny but if you give her instructions she will follow them.  She is also the cutest forager I have ever seen!  Her mother is pretty cute too.

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Emily and I split a box of apples.  She was turning hers into caramel apples.  I may try to store mine.  We feel blessed to have access to fresh, nutritious food that didn’t cost us anything and for generations of fabulous men and women to teach and love us.  Such a sweet life.

apple picking

Ginger Spiced Apple Sauce and Trees

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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.