Tu-Na Eats: Apples, Apples, and More Apples!

Twenty-nine years ago it may have seemed like a good idea to plant a dozen apple trees.

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Through the years, we lost a few trees to deer and the cold winter weather but we replaced most of those. We now have eleven trees remaining with nine of them having started producing in earnest in the last five years or so. However, last year due to a cold spell on Mother’s Day which froze most of the blossoms, we only had 6 surviving apples—actually only 5 since a wild turkey got one before we did. 

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This pic of one of our trees was taken by a friend of mine. You can see how loaded those trees are! Photo used with permission.

 

Imagine our surprise when every tree in our apple orchard produced abundantly this year.

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The tree branches were bowing under the weight with some resting on the ground making for easy picking for me and others.

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Mom and I are picking while our exchange daughter looks on. She is the one who received the plus quilt I made recently and which I’ll be posting about soon. Photo used with permission. Isn’t the sky in this pic interesting?

This past month, I have almost (but not quite) had my fill of fresh apple slices. 

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Here’s some Honeycrisp and Prairie Spies. We have two trees of each of these.

In addition, I’ve sauced them,

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Naturally pink applesauce comes from some of the apples due to cooking them and running them thru the food strainer with their skins on.

turned them into delicious pies, 

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crisps, baked apples, and apple dumplings.

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This is the first time I’ve ever made an apple dumpling. It was delicious!

I’ve even canned several jars of cinnamon apple rings.

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I plan to make a few more jars of these.

My husband took 4 gallons of cider to a local vintner to be made into wine.

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These are a couple of bottles left over from several years ago. We had two batches of different wine made: one with cinnamon and one without. Our latest batch won’t be done until sometime next year. Once it is finished, the vintner calls us to schedule an appointment to finish it up. At that time, we bottle it ourselves, cork it, and put on our own label. Notice our family crest which is on every bottle of wine that is made for us–even the rhubarb wine (but that’s another post).

My husband and I work together to dry many of them, some plain and some sprinkled with cinnamon.

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Dried apples make a sweet snack. We’ve made about 24 gallon bags of plain and 6 quart bags of cinnamon apples that have mostly been given away to family and friends. We are still dehydrating as there are still plenty of apples to be done this way.

And we’ve given lots of apples away to friends and family. We’ve even sold 5 boxes to a local food co-op.

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I just love this pic that my friend took of some of our Prairie Spies. I think they make excellent pies but are not good keepers due to easily being bruised. They’ve now had a good frost–down to 26 degrees F.–which helps make them sweeter and maybe will help them keep better. Photo used with permission.

But the majority of those luscious red or yellow apples gets pulverized into cider with our hand-crank cider press.

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We work in our car garage to keep flies and wasps under control. First the apples are loaded into the hopper to be chopped into little pieces. My friend S. sure enjoys helping us out and has come several times. I think she’ll be back to help us again as she left behind not one but both of her great Norwex cleaning cloths that were used to wash the apples.

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This friend of ours has cheerfully come every time we’ve cidered this year. Either D. really likes to help or he enjoys our company. I know that we couldn’t have done this much without his help and we are grateful to him. The motor runs the chopper but the press is hand-cranked.

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About 16 pounds of apples goes into a gallon of cider.

It’s quite a process and we rely on family and friends to help us.

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We wash, rinse, quarter, and cut out the stem and blossom ends (just because I think that is where the dirt hides even with good washing). The core is left in the apple to be crushed. We have lots of fun that just doesn’t seem to end this year.

Even the little ones bring apples from the trees or put them in the water. They taste test some of them too.

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Everyone’s efforts are rewarded with a meal or two at our table (including at least one but usually several apple items) and lots of cider and apples to take home. 

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The gallons are not completely full allowing for expansion during the freezing process. We’ve learned from experience that there needs to be lots of head room now to avoid cleaning out a very sticky freezer later.

So far we’ve made 213 gallons of cider this year. That’s a lot of washing, cutting, and pressing of apples happening at our house over the last four weekends.

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So where do we store all this cider? We keep a few gallons in the refrigerator to drink for 7-10 days. The rest gets put in the freezer. No, we don’t have enough freezer room for it all ourselves nor could we drink all of it even if we did. So we call our friends and family for help. Unfortunately for us, they are no longer answering our calls and we still have 3 trees left to pick.

What I Learned Today:

  1. There is nothing as good as a freshly picked apple; it is sinfully crisp and sweet.
  2. I am running out of apple recipes to make.
  3. The difference between apple cider and apple juice is that apple cider is unfiltered and uncooked and apple juice is clear because it’s been filtered and is cooked. Cider can be pasteurized (that’s usually how you find it in the store).
  4. My husband and I prefer to drink fresh-pressed raw apple cider but we tell others how to pasteurize it if they want.
  5. It’s nice to have a large family and lots of friends especially during apple harvest season.
  6. My husband is planning one final cider-making fun day for this season; that’s what he said last week.

Questions: Are you an “eat them fresh” or “bake with them” kind of apple person? What do you make with apples?

Linking with

Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social (button on the sidebar)

Beth at Cooking Up Quilts for Main Crush Monday (button on the sidebar)

Silly Mama Quilts

Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? (button on the sidebar)

Love Laugh Quilt for Monday Making

 

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50 thoughts on “Tu-Na Eats: Apples, Apples, and More Apples!

  1. Bonnie

    My mouth is watering looking at the pictures of all those yummy apples and baked goods. I can’t believe the size of your apple harvest this year! We eat a lot of fresh apples, but apple bars are a favorite!

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  2. Sharon Huse

    OH, MY LORD. I have never seen so many apples. I like apples either way – raw with salt and cooked with anything. Have you tried apple dumplings with prepared refrigerator crescent rolls? Many recipes online for Apple dumplings the easy way!!

    I am assuming with all of those apples you don’t have time to sew and quilt? Just so you know – I would never grow anything I had to work so hard to eat.!

    Thanks for the update, Sharon

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      You are absolutely right! There’s been no sewing or quilting going on here the last four weeks! I might have to get out my machine manual to figure out how to put in the bobbin correctly!

      I am learning to use quick mix products as I am a “make it from scratch” cook. I broke down this year and bought refrigerated pie crusts as I’ve been feeding a cider crew over the weekends and needed some help. The crusts were good and easy but I just had to pick up the rolling pin to roll them a bit thinner.

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  3. piecefulwendy

    Wow, what a harvest! I like apples both fresh and baked. I have an apple crisp recipe that I make each year. I also have a recipe of my grandmother for frosted apple bars, which were a favorite in our family for years.

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  4. Bonnie McMartin

    You have the best husband ! But , you already know that! Because , I have told you that! You really do make a great team! It is great that you share the same interests! Apple pie is my favorite! We had a good crop of apples on only four trees! I can’t imagine your harvest. Yes, the branches were bowing down and difficult to mow around! I marvel at your operation! Looking forward to your return to SVE! Friends , Bonnie and Ron

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      Yeah, he is pretty good. I think we dried all the apples from one tree already. We started picking them two weeks ago as they were starting to drop on a couple of trees but we just got our good freeze this week. We like to leave them on until then. He is talking about us picking off the remaining trees tomorrow. I think I’ll go hide.

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  5. Melody A.

    that is amazing, particularly all the apple cider, what a wonderful thing to just have on hand!!!
    Great job and I am sure will be enjoyed all year until the next harvest!

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  6. Emily R

    Will there still be apples to press beginning of November? I wouldn’t mind helping clean and cut, as long as all the apples are picked off the trees of course.

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  7. jennyfur66

    Oh my gosh Karen, you have been way beyond busy. Everything looks delicious. So glad you have family and friends to help you out. That is until they quit answering your calls. I don’t bake anymore since my weight is up where it shouldn’t be so I just eat apples in the raw.

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      It’s been nuts around here this last month which is why I haven’t been blogging or sewing much. We are looking at making some new friends as we need to do one more cider day.

      I hear you about the baking and I should heed that advice too for the same reason. But I just don’t have the will power. Giving away a lot of the apples and cider helps.

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  8. Sandra

    We had two trees out west and that was plenty for me! After having my first taste of fresh-pressed, raw cider in Ohio with Julie, I am ogling all those gallons! But nope, don’t envy you all the work…I’d rather sew!

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      I haven’t sat down and sewed for a month. I think I’ll need to consult my machine manual to put the bobbin in correctly.
      Two trees would be perfect for us now but we had 5 children at the time of starting the orchard. Unfortunately, it took so long for them to start producing apples. Actually, they didn’t start until my husband read that they need to be stressed so he took and pounded some nails into their trunks and the next year we had apples!! Last year, their blossoms froze so that stressed them. We can hardly give our apples away as everyone with trees has an over abundance.

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  9. Abigail

    Oh Karen what a lovely post – I wished we lived near you because we would love to help you with your apples. When we lived in NZ we helped out a local family in various ways and they had an apple orchard form which they made cider (alcoholic type) and each year they threw a cider party for all their friends. It was great fun to be part of it and your house at the moment sure sounds the same!

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  10. Jen R

    I love it! It looks like a fantastic time to spend with friends and family and have all of those delicious apples too! It makes me think of my grandma’s homemade apple butter. mmmmmm. Oh, it was so delicious. She would make the butter, jelly, and sauce. I haven’t worked too much with apples, but I do have a fantastic carmel apple cake recipe that I like to make once or twice a year.

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  11. Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts

    Oh my goodness! So. Many. Apples! No wonder you’re not getting any sewing time. 🙂 My hubby has tried again and again to grow apple trees without much luck. We have one now that has made it through two winters, so maybe….. One day we may have apples! LOL I’m happy you have such an abundant supply…if I lived closer I would help with that – it looks like great fun!

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  12. JanineMarie

    Oh this was so much fun to read! I’m in awe of your operation and all the things you do with your apples. I love apple pie, but we don’t make them ourselves. At this time of year we buy them ready to bake from our local high school swimming team. They’ve been making them for years as a fund raiser. Delicious! My husband likes apples fresh, but I like them sauted or microwaved with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      Thanks! I am glad you found it interesting. We are finding it tiring now. It’s great that you support your community. Selling apple pies is a new fundraiser I’ve never heard of. But then if someone came to our door, I’d have a hard time buying one from them this year.

      I haven’t made sautéed apples yet. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  13. Stephanie

    It always sounds like a dream come true to have access to fresh fruit like that, but when it comes down to it, it’s a lot of work. I’m so impressed by all that you and your family and friends accomplished. My mom has always made fresh apple turnovers with the apples from the trees in the backyard, they’re my favorite. As she’s gotten older it’s harder for her to do. But that is my favorite thing to do with apples.

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      Yes, it is a lot of work. In addition to apples, we have pears (not producing yet), apricots (production is spotty as they blossom early and usually freeze except this year), tart cherries (just started this year), plums (not in production yet), crab apple (one tree died back to its root stock—apple trees are grafted onto crab apple roots as they will weather the harsh winters here—and we didn’t catch it until it fruited and now we don’t have the heart to cut it down), sand cherries (not producing yet), and currants (the birds usually get them first). We also have a huge garden.

      Ooh, apple turnovers, Sounds delicious. I’ll have to google a recipe for them.

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  14. Judyk

    I have a great Apple muffin recipe that I found in a Woman’s Day magazine (I think). Over the years I have modified it to make it easier. It is a hit everywhere I take it. If you are interested e-mail me and I will send a PDF of the recipe. You would be welcome to,post the recipe if others were interested.

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  15. Julie Zeigler

    Too bad you are so far away! I would love to come and help! All your mad apple skills are becoming a dieing art. Maybe you will help bring a resurgence to the art of apple harvest as well as the art of quilting! Enjoyed your blog,as usual!

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      It is hard to give the apples away as everyone around here with an apple tree in their backyard has lots of apples this year. We do have about 9 different varieties which is really nice. The problem is that we only know the names of three of them.

      I agree that canning and freezing as well as making a pie crust from scratch is becoming a dying art. I’m trying to pass along my skills to my daughter and daughters-in-law.

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  16. Gretchen

    I love eating fresh apples that have been cut in half and cored. Put some ‘real’ peanut butter in the center and you have a wonderful treat. This Grandma has taught all the grands to eat apples that way. If I was closer, I’d be glad to buy several bushels from you. Blessings, Gretchen

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  17. karenj7216

    I wish we lived closer to each other or you delivered. I have had any apple cider this year and I really have been wanting some to drink. I have never frozen cider. I was able to only buy a few good apples so not much canning for me.

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      I think a lot of my readers wish they lived closer to me during apple harvest this year. Fresh-pressed raw apple cider is the best. We take great care to make sure it is clean and safe.

      Frozen cider lasts several years and tastes just as good as the fresh. We have enough to last us for a very long time.

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  18. Bonnie in Va

    Your apple abundance looks fabulous. You’ve done a lot of work for only 9 trees! Yikes. I used to make chunky applesauce, pies and froze apples to make pies later, if I remember correctly. I still like to make apple pies.

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    1. Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats Post author

      Yes, we’ve been making and eating lots of apple dishes and generally enjoying the apples but not so much the hard work. We see an end coming soon. We are down to having apples on only part of a tree left to pick and deal with. Plus about 12 boxes in the garage! Apple pie is a favorite and I’ve made several as well as froze some filling for the winter.

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  19. Patricia

    You have been busy! I never realized how many delicious food can be made from apples! Yum! I wonder – is there an apple quilt in your future? 
    Thank you for sharing!

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  20. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: Blogger’s Quilt Festival Update | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

  21. France Nadeau

    Wow, you’ve been quite busy with your apples. And what a joy it must have been to find so many on your trees this year. You pies and baked apples looks terribly delicious.
    Personally, I diced fresh apples and stored them in my big freezer to cook them later, stored as much as I could in my fridge and the rest in on my kitchen counter. 🙂
    I will now head to Bloglovin to add you blog to my list…

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  22. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: A Year-End Review | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

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