I was lucky enough to move into a house, just a few weeks ago, that not only has a wonderful screened-in porch with a view, but also has three good-sized apple trees in the yard.Â I knew about the porch prior to move-in day, but I hadn’t yet noticed the trees, and I was certainly elated when I saw their fruit load.
I asked the owner of the house about the varieties.Â She didn’t have any information on them, so I decided that the best choice would be to try an apple from each tree.Â I know that many apples don’t sweeten up until after a frost, so august is sometimes too early, but these looked like they had a chance.Â When I tried them, I found that one tree had soft-textured, but sweet apples, and one was firmer and sweet, and the third didn’t taste quite as good, either in a sweet or tart way–so I suspect that is a frost-ripening tree.Â A few apples from the first two trees had started dropping, so I decided I’d better take advantage of the abundant apples while they’re still around.
It’s kind of a rough time of year for a gardener–and I mean rough in the best sense.Â It’s incredibly hard to decide what needs doing on what day.Â After a day’s work, I come home, eat supper, have to figure out which of my abundant fruits and vegetables are in the most dire need of preserving, and then set to work.Â Today, I put off canning tomatoes to make applesauce, which is currently bubbling in a crock pot behind me, turning into apple butter overnight.
When I called my mom and told her my activities, she said “Applesauce? Oh, that’s a lot of work.”Â I can agree and disagree.Â I do agree that it takes a lot of time, which seems to be in short supply nowadays.Â On the other hand, cooking quartered apples with an inch of water turns them to mush really quickly, and then all that needs doing is milling them in one of those conical mills with a pestle.Â I found all sorts of ways to entertain myself while milling the applesauce, such as singing to myself and using the pestle as a backbeat.Â I suspect that if I had children I would set them to work on it as well–I definitely recall milling applesauce as a child, and squishing things into mush is fun for all ages, though we repress it better as adults.
I decided that my applesauce would be best turned into apple butter–I missed strawberry season this year due to an ill-timed vacation, so I need something to spread on my toast in the morning!Â So my applesauce went straight into the crock pot (it’s possible to use a pot on the stove on very low heat) with sugar and cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg, and that’s where it’s bubbling away, filling the house with lovely smells.Â I have the lid of the pot offset a little bit rather than snug on the pot, because the point of cooking it for so long is to evaporate some of the water in the sauce to thicken it into butter.Â In fact, I wasn’t able to fit all of my applesauce into the crock pot at once, so I plan to add the rest of it once the sauce that’s in there cooks down enough to give me room.
I look forward to further adventures in apples–dehydrating some is my next plan.Â But tomorrow I will be canning the apple butter into pints and half pints, which will be another adventure in and of itself, since I expect to have several canner loads to work with.Â And don’t be surprised if you find some apple butter in your stocking this December… someone was dealing with an abundance of apples!