Saturday, October 16, 2021

How Do Ya Like Them Apples?

Just about any way at all!  And I've been keeping close company with apples for the past couple of days.
We harvested all of Zestar apples, which are usually the first ones ready.

This year's harvest wasn't the best.  We got only 42 apples off of our two trees in the "cage."  But most of them are quite large in size and are making wonderful eating apples.

We planted another Chestnut Crabapple this spring to add to our existing one, so we had apples from just the original tree this year.  They're the largest crabapples I've ever seen and also the sweetest tasting.  We save them for eating-out-of-hand, too. 

This shows the size of both the Zestars and Chestnut Crabapples.  About three inches across for the Zestars and two inches across for the crabapples.
This past Thursday we went to friends' house to pick apples they had offered to us.  These will be for our supply of applesauce.

We came home with four 5-gallon pails (three pictured above) of wonderful apples from their big, 35+ year old tree.  It was planted by the previous generation that owned the house, so they weren't sure of the variety all these years later.

Papa Pea, who worked in an orchard during his high school years, thinks they are most likely Baldwins.

I've made two batches of applesauce with the first two pails in the past two days.  More on the schedule for today.  Above shows one batch of the half cooked down sauce in my biggest stock pot.  And, oh!  The aroma that has been permeating the house!

After dinner last night I couldn't resist making some of the apples into our first apple pie of the season.  It's sitting on a plate because it burbled all over in the oven (sigh) and the bottom of the pie plate is a sticky, gooey mess.  I'm gonna take that as a sign that the pie will be wonderful! 


Michelle said...

Out of the four apple trees on our property I only know the variety of one, the Braeburn my husband planted for me. It was not a good apple year here; I got one batch of applesauce made from my MIL's apples, which she got in abundance. Then again, my husband sprayed HER trees....

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - Ugh. Regardless of what some may say, the poisonous sprays used on apple trees do remain on or in the apples. And who wants to eat that stuff? It's bad enough we have to breathe polluted air but purposely adding toxic substances to our body's systems doesn't make any sense to me. Our bodies can literally wear out and become more prone to disease when they have to work so hard handling poisons we ingest. But I know you understand this. (Pushing soap box back under bed now.)

SmartAlex said...

Those are beautiful apples! I wish we had more varieties to enjoy but we have so many of what we do have that I shudder to think what we would do with more trees! I am down to a couple dozen Spies to deal with. They just don't keep so we have to deal with them fairly promptly. I have an apple crisp cooling and the dehydrator running. I set out to learn to make good crisp this year. Pies are great for storing in the freezer but for fresh eating the apple crisp is a delight. And I've got it figured out now!

Hummingbird said...

I recently read an interesting article about people who are searching for and identifying "lost" varieties of apples. They search out old homesteads because back in the day every homestead or farm had apple trees. The old timers often planted them at the bottom of hills or near springs so they didn't have to irrigate so they have survived for decades unattended. The article also stated that 100+ years ago there were 17,000 different varieties of apples grown in the US and Canada!

Mama Pea said...

SmartAlex - How do you use your dehydrated apples? In the past I've found them to somehow "lose" their good flavor in drying. I have cut them up and put them in baked goods and granola, but couldn't detect any flavor in the final product. We do like dried fruit . . . prunes, apricots and dates so I'm looking for ways to use dried apples.

Hummingbird - We have found old apple trees on very old abandoned homesteads in this area, but most of them were crabapples (evidently easier to grow back then) and as sour as could be. That's an amazing fact to think there were once 17,000 different varieties of apples at one time!

tpals said...

The apple trees my grandparents planted are gone now and those my parents planted are 40+ years old and starting to fail. I've tried planting replacements for them but my dad (worst procrastinator) would never protect them from the deer. Last year I planted more on the farm and fenced them in myself. Still alive!

Rosalea said...

Beautiful fruit. Those sure are BIG crabapples! Do you peel the sauce apples by hand? I'll have a slice of the pie...please.

SmartAlex said...

We just eat our dehydrated apples as a snack. We've given about half away this year but I've been putting them in the freezer for later. I like having a container on the counter for when I am feeling "peckish". They are a great healthy snack to grab when you don't have time to get something more complicated. Beats a cookie every time. Whether I process them a little green or a little over ripe changes their flavor from tart to sweet, but people we give them to always ask if I used some sort of special seasoning because they are so flavorful. I don't know if it is the Northern Spies or the dehydrator process? But flavor is never a problem.

Katie c. said...

I make my applesauce in the slow cooker. Peel, core, chop, cook 4 hours on high. I make two batches and then reheat it on the stove top to can so I get a full canner of pints. Oh, I forgot. I puree it first in the blender. I have to buy my apples so I usually get two kinds to mix it up. I figure if I’m paying $0.99/pound or less, I’m doing ok. I’ve finished my applesauce and apple butter canning for the season. I give the apple butter away as Christmas presents. I’m not a huge fan of sweet breakfasts aside from the occasional pancakes.

Tim B. Inman said...

Old guy needs advice: What to do with applesauce! I made a bunch, it tastes great. I can only stand so much of it in a dish - there's gotta be something else I can do with it. Advice welcomed!!!

As for spraying: You've gotta do it. You don't have to poison everything though. A spray of baking soda and water will go a long way. A spray of dish detergent and water works too. Little and often is the key. All aimed at making life miserable for the little beggars so they'll go feed on something else! I don't like to eat poison chems myself, so I minimize that all I can.


Nancy @ Little Homestead In Boise said...

We love our apples! Looks like a nice variety. I used to make applesauce but my adult kids didn't want any (mine was chunky!) so now I freeze part slices and can the rest. Enjoy!

Michelle said...

Hey Tim, thanks for the non-toxic spray options! As for applesauce, we use most of ours for a simple, filling meal: toast homemade bread, spread with peanut butter, top with applesauce. Somehow better than the sum of its three parts. ;-) And my applesauce method is so easy: I core and cut out bad spots, cutting them up in the process, toss the pieces (raw and unpeeled) in my blender, and puree, usually with a teaspoon of cinnamon (a little water, if necessary, to start the process). Then I put the puree in sterilized quart jars in a warm oven to take the chill off while I continue, so that the jars of puree don't break when they hit the boiling water bath. Process for 30 minutes; done. I figure leaving the peels on and cooking less preserves more of the nutrients – and flavor!

Mama Pea said...

tpals - Good for you for persevering in getting more apple trees planted at your folks' place! We could never, ever grow them here without protection from the hungry deer population.

Rosalea - I confess to being a terrible "non-gadget" person and do peel the sauce apples by hand. I even have a very nice mechanical peeler which my daughter uses when she helps me, but I prefer my good ol' hand peeler. Isn't that silly?

SmartAlex - I'm sure the variety of apple one dehydrates goes a long way toward the finished product's taste. Just so you know, I'm sending you a very large box of apples for you to dry for me 'cause I'm crowning you the Dried Apple Queen, for sure! ;o)

Katie C. - Just goes to show there's more than one way to make applesauce! I prefer my applesauce a little bit "chunky" so don't put it through a food mill or in a blender. Each to his (or her) own, eh? :o)

Tim - I know many people use applesauce in baking recipes in place of the oil or shortening. I've never done it though. With our eggs in the morning, we often have a blop of applesauce as the breakfast fruit. Also, we like pork and I always serve applesauce with that meat. (Grew up with it that way so you know how that goes.) I wonder if you couldn't layer apple sauce in a baking dish, put the same topping on it that you would for an Apple Crisp and bake it. (Hey, we should both try that!) Michelle had a wonderful idea for the toast, peanut butter and applesauce. I gotta try that.

As far as spraying the fruit trees, your suggestions for using a non-toxic spray (or sprays) are great! Fortunately, (should I say this out loud?) other than birds attacking our apples (grrr!) we've had very little problems with blemishes or insect infestations. Finger crossed!

Nancy - Yay to another chunky applesauce lover! Lots one can do with a bountiful harvest of apples other than making sauce.

Michelle - Loved the suggestion for the toast, peanut butter and applesauce! We'll try that. I once made my applesauce with unpeeled apples but we didn't like the pieces of peel in the sauce. Which was a shame because that's where most of the nutrients in an apple are, as you know. I may just have to sacrifice my "chunky" sauce and put a batch or two in the blender as you do just to get the goodness that the peelings have. Good idea!

Tim B. Inman said...

Glad I asked, ladies! And another spray notion: Some organic gardeners swear by putting garlic and the offending bugs (You've gotta go out and catch 'em by hand) into a blender jug of water and whirrring it all together. Strain, spray, cross fingers. Sometimes I add a bar of Irish Spring to the brew. Anything to keep the critters unhappy. Thanks again!