Friday, September 19, 2008

The Secret Orchard

I happened to have the local news on and found out that the price of potatoes has gone up. I hollered out to husband, "Hey, we just got wealthier!" Because, you know, we've got potatoes.

We also have these apples. Now, these are from a secret place that I hope only we know about. Well, us and the bears anyway. At first we wondered why there were no apples on the ground. Then we saw one way high up bit in two. With teeth marks. And these odd looking piles of poop. The occasional branch ridden down. And stomped down areas. At first we were thinking other people knew about this secret place but then we thought about the bears. It is, after all, in the bear preserve. We live in the bear preserve. So we hope the bears won't mind too much sharing these apples with us.

Now, each bag you see there represents apples from a different tree. There were a couple more trees whose apples were not anywhere near ripe yet. We plan to go back. But right now this is enough to process. And pack out. The trees are not near anything, including the road. That is a good bit more than a hundred pounds of apples.

We will keep the perfect ones and store them in the cool, probably in sawdust although you could use clean dry leaves. Those will be some eating apples and some of them will likely keep until Christmas or after. The less than perfect ones will become what I grew up calling "apples". Or "cooked apples" if you had to specify. It was also known as "fruit". Anyway, it is just cut up apples, usually fairly sour ones, cooked, with a little sweetening added. And usually a dollop of butter. Just enough water in the bottom of the pot to keep them from sticking. Just stewed. Depending on what kind of apple you start with, the end product differs. My grandparents used "horse apples" that were very sour and sweetened retained a rather sweet-tart flavor and cooked to mush. My mother had three trees with some Winesap sort of apple on them (they were 5 in one trees) and those kept their shape and had a full bodied flavor. I love all of them. I remember my grandparents, sitting under their big double birch tree, with wash tubs full of salt water, peeling, quartering, coring, and slicing the apples. When I'd take my hand to dunk the slices into the water, I could see my grandmother's hand doing the same thing, still holding her knife. After the salt water, you just take the slices, shake the water off them, and put them in freezer containers and freeze. To cook, just put in a pot on some low heat. This is a great breakfast side. Great anything side actually.

We'll also dehydrate as many as we can. We're dehydrating onions and tomatoes right now too.

Oh, and we'll be trying this this year to see if it works or not -- taking the peels and the cores and cooking them with water to make apple jelly. No waste that way.


These are Jacob's cattle beans, dried on the vines before they were picked off. The thing sitting on the handle is a giant sunflower head drying. Tons of those this year too. I'm determined to not let the birds have all of them -- there are plenty of other things for the birds to eat!

14 comments:

Kitt said...

Your own secret orchard! That's pretty special. Do be careful of the bears.

jodith said...

100 pounds! And here I thought I was good pulling 10 pounds of crabapples from the local marina.

They planted them as ornamentals, but they're really good crabapples. Usually, they just go to waste, except for the ones the birds eat. This year, the husband ate about 2 pounds of them, and I canned spiced crabapples from the rest.

The next spot to hit is the local park with all the apple and pear trees. They should just about be getting ripe.

laura said...

this is why i've always said how rich you are...even when you couldn't afford deodorant...LOL!!!

i remember my great grandma did apples that way. cut and freeze and then cook them up with butter and sugar and sometimes cinnamon. they were sour apples and so so so good. to this day when someone talks about fried apples, my mouth will water and then when i have them, if they are good, i am transported back to my childhood. if they are not good, i am always sorely disappointed.

Hot Belly Mama - taking it all back said...

I think you will be my new best friend. The property my husband and I are buying is FILLED with apple trees and I have been so overwhelmed with what the heck we would do with all of them. All I could think of was, "we need a cider maker, we need a cider maker!" But how much cider can one drink? I have been really enjoying your blogs. Thank you so much.

CG said...

kitt, I'm going back and re-naming this post because of your comment.

jodith, 10 pounds IS something. The most important part is to start, to do something.

la, you'll have to come up for some apples. But that'll be the only part of the meal that is vegetarian because the biscuits have lard and the gravy are on pan drippings . . .

hot belly, good luck with your new place. Cider is a great thing and we were just talking about wishing we had access to a cider press. We had a friend with one but she moved to Montana. Dehydrating is a great thing. They are amazing dehydrated, so intense.

Also don't forget the animals (chickens and pigs in particular) can eat all the leavings.

Tor Hershman said...

More apple-enriched than the average bear
[See: Bear – Yogi]

Stay on groovin’ safari,
Tor

Joe Tornatore said...

that's alot of apples.

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thingfish23 said...

Mom told me not long ago about finding an orchard of heirloom-style apples out in western NC. She just happened across it. A local friend already knew about it, and they went out picking. Color me jealous x2. Our guavas are awesome, though.

Alecto said...

Thanks for this. I would not have had the courage to pick 70 pounds of them otherwise. We'll save the perfect fruit and process the rest tomorrow.

CG said...

oh gawd, Alecto, don't drive yourself crazy processing. We've taken over a week now and have plenty dried, plenty frozen (technique: peel, quarter, put in salt water while you peel some more, when ready, take freezer bag and get a handful of apples and shake the water off them and put them in the bag, seal and freeze. To cook, just put frozen blob into pot with a little water, some sweetening, some butter, and stew down) and we still have three of four bags we haven't gotten through yet. Of course, when we do get through them, the first thing we'll do is get some more!

Of course, processing along is easier for us because of being at home most of the time . . . .

CG said...

btw, I did an apple pie for tonight! Pies are so decadent!

Alecto said...

ok, we made it through about a fifth of those apples and it was a near riot with nanny,nomans and me sitting around a pot peeling and coring without multiple stabbings. We do it every weekend because it's the only thing that keeps us(ok, me) sane these days. Boiling apple skins and pits now and wondering just how long before I strain them...?

CG said...

I don't think it is critical. I just have been putting them in a pot, putting, oh, maybe 2/3 water in them, bringing to boil then letting simmer a little while, letting it cool some, then straining through a jelly strainer into another pot (I don't ever use a bag in the jelly strainer ever for anything -- the only use there is for clear jelly is to win the county fair and I don't give a darn about winning the county fair if it doesn't have better taste than to prefer clear jellies), the put that liquid in a jar and refrigerate until we're ready to make the jelly. Last time I added mint to the simmer pot to make apple mint jelly, but I haven't made that jelly as yet.