Sunday, October 30, 2011
We picked just a few free apples this year. I spent a lot of time on the bus scanning for apple trees that weren't being picked, and now I can't seem to turn off my apple radar. It's amazing and sad to see how many people don't pick their fruit.
We didn't know any of these people. We just asked if we could pick, since it looked like they weren't going to use all of their apples. We always try to clean up the fallen, rotting fruit so we will be welcome back next year. We could have picked many more boxes if I'd had the time and energy - I probably saw 25 more houses with apples going to waste.
Source #1 - Neighbor around the corner. Think they were Granny Smith. Very wormy and small, took us two rounds of picking. Picked up a few walnuts from their yard as well.
Source #2 - Vacant house a few miles away, got permission from the owner. Think they were Jonathan. Wormy but larger, so I sorted out the good ones and used the corer-peeler-slicer to do a few jars of apple slices.
Source #3 - House a mile away. Golden Delicious and Red Delicious, not very many, somewhat wormy but good sized. They had a red pear tree and I'd never seen red pears, so they said we could take just a few. They turned out to be Asian pears - SCORE!
Source #4 - Neighbor on our street. Think they were Jonathan. Wormy and large, but the apples were really high and Nathan wasn't home that day. It was hard picking and even harder to carry the one box and fruit picker home by myself.
Source #5 - House a few miles away. Red Delicious, best bunch we got. The owners chose not to pick because they hadn't sprayed. We got scads of beautiful, large, wormy apples. These ones were good enough that I could use the slicer where you push down and it cores the apple and makes slices. Then I just cut out the bad parts. We also picked a few bunches of Concord grapes at this house.
Because I had to cut out bad spots in 85% of the apples, I mostly made applesauce. On the days when I had more than one variety of apple in the house, I mixed them for better flavor. I also made several flavors of applesauce. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla-spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla). I chose to use sugar to sweeten all the batches although some batches didn't require much.
A bit into the project, I decided I couldn't possibly keep peeling and blending all of these apples. We were given a strainer but it turned out to be missing a number of parts. We decided it was worth it to buy a new strainer and keep the old one for parts. It really sped up the process but was still physically demanding, so I drafted Nathan when he was around.
The apples are now officially done. I would have liked to pick the rest of the Red Delicious apples but I was too exhausted and ran out of time before we got a hard freeze. I spent hours and hours on the apples and I'm pretty sure we now have a two year supply.
I tried a new recipe with the last of the apples - caramel spice apple butter. I've been eyeballing it for months and it lived up to my expectations. I had an additional jar that didn't seal and Nathan scarfed it down. I guess I'm adding it to my repertoire.
Apple juice - 6 quarts, 1 pint
Apple slices - 3 quarts, 1 pint
Applesauce - 30 quarts, 34 pints
Apple-cinnamon syrup - 3 quarts, 1 pint
Caramel spice apple butter - 8 pints
Jalapeno applesauce - 5 pints
Oh yeah, here's the scoop on the jalapeno applesauce. I cooked the elk chili in my pressure cooker. I subsequently washed it and cooked a batch of apples in it. I made the brilliant decision to speed up the cooking process by actually putting on the lid and bringing it up to pressure. Unfortunately I hadn't thoroughly cleaned the seal on the lid, which had absorbed just enough jalapeno flavor to mildly flavor the apples.
To answer a previous comment, my pressure canner (used for meat and veggies) is different from my pressure cooker (cooks things faster - great for dried beans).