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An apple affair

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I hate to break it to you all, but the leaves are turning colors. And falling. Yes, it’s beginning to look like autumn, and if that wasn’t proof enough, the apples are starting to ripen. That’s right, the season of fall spices and harvest flavors is upon us.

Like a lot of folks, I couldn’t let the apple harvest get ahead of me. So the wife and I, accompanied by my young son, took to the task of collecting our fall apples. For those of you ready to quit reading this due to your need to resist the change in season, you should know that the green apple trees were not yet ripe. Summer isn’t quite over, my friends.

But as for my red apples, they were plenty ripe and satisfyingly plump. For those of you who are curious as to the variety of apple these are, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t say, although my wife seems to think they are some sort of Macintosh. Regardless, we broke out the ladder and picker and got about two bushels from the red apple tree.

I’m sure our resident deer will be confounded this week as they return to find the tree bare. As it is, our property is often the snacking grounds for our local critters. The squirrels have been chased from the chicken feeder and the birds dissuaded from the garden. Don’t ask me how successful all that has been, because the answer will be a tad lack-luster. Assuming, my dear reader, you can surmise the fate of our other crops, you will now better sympathize with me and my family on the excitement of having two whole bushels of apples saved from the scavenging riff-raff that share this plot of nature we call home.

Rorick, my son, is particularly excited about our apples. After all, what better snack for a six-month-old than homemade applesauce!

That’s right, date night consisted of peeling and chunking apples for applesauce to be canned, apple pies to be frozen and apple tarts for our growing desire for a snack. A couple hours in, however, we had only chopped up a few gallons worth of apples and barely seemed to make a dent in the total sum of apples still waiting in the baskets. Upon breaking for the night and making a game plan, it was time to get serious. The following day we borrowed a food mill from the neighbor, which proved to be invaluable in the production of Rorick’s applesauce. With the mill we didn’t need to peel and core the apples, instead they could be cooked whole and dropped directly into the mill before being separated into two bowls. One for applesauce, the other for pulp. Coincidently, it saved much more of the apple flesh than I believe I was able to, based on the bag of peels and cores I had thrown away the previous evening. More applesauce for Rorick!

All in all, it was a satisfying task. In recent years, our apple harvest has been minimal due to both poor apple growth and the human error of forgetting to pick them on time. The way out here isn’t always perfect, but sometimes you get it right. What’s more, we only have three trees in all. We may not be superior homesteading apple farmers, but we have fun and provide a bit of food for the family. That’s what it’s all about.

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