Twenty-nine years ago it may have seemed like a good idea to plant a dozen apple trees.
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.
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.
The tree branches were bowing under the weight with some resting on the ground making for easy picking for me and others.
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.
Here’s some Honeycrisp and Prairie Spies. We have two trees of each of these.
In addition, I’ve sauced them,
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,
crisps, baked apples, and apple dumplings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- There is nothing as good as a freshly picked apple; it is sinfully crisp and sweet.
- I am running out of apple recipes to make.
- 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).
- My husband and I prefer to drink fresh-pressed raw apple cider but we tell others how to pasteurize it if they want.
- It’s nice to have a large family and lots of friends especially during apple harvest season.
- 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?
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