A Backyard Apple Orchard of Your Own: Part 1

winter cover farm applesFor those of us that can’t even remember to water the herbs in our kitchens (ahem, not that that’s me or anything), the thought of growing an apple orchard in our backyard seems downright laughable. Continue reading

How To Harvest Fruit Without A Ladder

ladder-and-apple-tree

My Dad was born in a tiny bedroom a few steps from the kitchen in our fourth generation Lehman farm.  Grandpa’s original apple trees were still thriving there until just a few years ago.  Some of the nut trees my dad planted with his own hands there are now more than 60’ tall! Continue reading

Applesauce Day

apples in bowl lisa amstutz

Late summer means it’s time for one of my favorite traditions: Applesauce Day. For years, the kids and I have spent a day or two each summer making a year’s worth of applesauce with my mother. It’s a family tradition that grows sweeter every year.

This year, the day was extra-special because for the first time, we did not have to buy any apples. Our young trees produced a bumper crop of chemical-free, mostly worm-free apples. We did a batch of Transparent apples and a second batch of Summer Rambos. Continue reading

What To Do With An Abundance of Apples?

Stainless Steel Cider Press

Stainless Steel Cider Press

Oh, what to do with an abundance of apples? It has been the year of fruit here in Massachusetts. The trees are weighted down with peaches, pears and apples. There are so many that I’m receiving whole cases as gifts from people who have more than they can eat or preserve. So what to do with this gift from the trees (and from desperate neighbors)?

First of all, if you have your apples in a root cellar or cold storage, you have time to process. It’s not like tomato season!

Options abound. I have already pressed 120 pounds into cider. Next up will be canning. I want to do sauce but I also want to do pie filling. On a cold winter’s day, I can get away with a pot of soup for supper as long as I have a hearty dessert. I do NOT have a family that considers a bowl of soup supper otherwise. If the filling is sitting in a jar the whole thing takes minutes as I keep rounds of pie dough in the freezer waiting for the night I need a great dessert or a pot luck contribution. So let’s make pie filling today.

Continue reading

Michigan Apples Keep Judy Hustling

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, Ohio.

Bushel baskets available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

I was a busy bee over the weekend. Bought a bushel of mixed apples grown right here in Michigan, and made applesauce and apple butter. Sounds so simple with so few words, but it’s actually quite a lot of work, even though I significantly changed two labor-intensive steps.

I have a food press, one of those cone-shaped dealies with a wooden pestle. It’s hard work to press apples with their peels, cores, seeds and stems through it, and you’re constantly cleaning out the scrap. I also have an attachment for my Kitchen Aid that will separate the scrap from the apple flesh, but I didn’t want to dirty more dishes. Continue reading

Perfect for Seasonal Gifts, Maple Apple Butter Cooks Up Quickly

Freezer Storage Containers

Freezer Storage Containers

Monday, we shared our blogger Kendra’s trick for keeping apples and pears that you’re freezing looking fresh and tasty. Today, a brand new guest blogger shares her recipe for Maple Apple Butter–perfect to make with some of those frozen fruits. Jen, in her own words, is “a lifestyle blogger living in an urban area just outside Washington, DC.” She and her husband work hard at living a balanced life, focused on their family. Continue reading

Apples Everywhere: Cider, Slices, Sauce & Juice

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

Worth the investment! Cider presses are available at Lehmans.com now.

We live in one of the most apple-rich areas of the country. The back roads are lined with abandoned apple trees and the state forests often have old orchards where apples are free for the picking. Bruce and I put in a small orchard 8 years ago and our own trees have begun to bear fruit too, so it seemed only sensible to add an apple press to our wish list of tools and equipment. But alas, the price seemed beyond us for a sturdy one that included an apple crusher as well as a heavy duty press.

Eventually, we teamed up with three other families and bought a press to share. It has turned out to be a wonderful experience for all concerned. Because we have the sheltering summer kitchen with electricity and running water, the cider press is there year-round, ready to go. Continue reading

Book Review: Apples, Apples Everywhere

In stock now--order for apple harvest season now!

In stock at Lehman.com or Lehman’s in Kidron now–order for apple harvest season now!

It’s the best apple harvest in years, so we hear. And that’s welcome news after last year’s spring freeze, which really hurt Ohio apple growers.

So, since apples are coming in by the bushel, what should you do? You should take advice from the experts–and that includes Hillcrest Orchard in Walnut Creek, Bauman Orchards in Rittman. These two local orchards and orchards across the country contributed their best recipes for apple dishes to Lee Jackson’s Apples, Apples Everywhere: Favorite Recipes from America’s Orchards. Continue reading