Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Season!

One of the best things about fall is the apples. Though I do occasionally buy apples in the grocery store through out the year, in the fall we binge.

With all the other fresh fruit available, I didn't buy apples since the strawberries started in May. The children were absolutely thrilled to have apples again.

I usually purchase seconds at a local orchard.When purchasing apples, I've found it best to call around. In our area there are quite a few apple orchards and there is a wide variety of prices.

Today I went to pick up some more apples at the orchard. I paid $6.00 a bushel for seconds, the best price I've ever seen in our area. I bought Golden Delicious and Empire.

On the way home, I stopped at another orchard for cider. This orchard was located not more than a half mile from the first orchard. There the apple seconds were selling for $8.00 a HALF bushel. Maybe because they make cider and  have a good use for their seconds, they are not as eager to give them away!

I just checked my records from last fall and found that I had purchased 10 bushel of apples. That sounds like a ridiculous amount. With those apples I made apple pie filling, apple butter, applesauce, all manner of apple desserts and lots of fresh eating.

Last year, I had been determined not to run out of applesauce. Ed loves applesauce and could eat it 365 days of the year. I pack a bowl of applesauce in his lunch almost every day. The children love applesauce too so I made applesauce last year until I thought I HAD to have enough.

But this summer, it was obvious I wasn't going to make it until fall. I cut back on serving applesauce and started feeding them fresh fruit and actually have six jars of applesauce left. I also have a couple jars of apple pie filling and maybe one jar of apple butter.

But, obviously, I had to buy a bunch more apples for this coming year. I've bought nine bushels so far, in two trips. We ate a peck of them just in the last week, mostly just fresh with some peanut butter. Almost every meal ends with "Can I have a apple with peanut butter?" - a request I can't resist!

Buying seconds isn't without it's issues. I don't usually order over the phone because I like to look at them first. Some of the apples I got had nothing wrong, just small size. Others have brown "dings" that the orchard man says are from stink bug damage. They should be fine for applesauce.

I found maybe one or two per bushel that have a small rotten spot. I like to transfer them to a new crate when I get home and check for any bad apples. You know what they say about one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch!

We'll save the nicest apples for fresh eating and turn the rest into applesauce.

My back can't handle moving that many bushels into the house, and I didn't want them to sit in the hot van. The children's red wagon came in handy.


I had a willing helper.


But then she decided to ride!

Tomorrow I'll share the recipe of an apple cake we enjoyed last night. I'd love to hear what you do with apples!

Oh, and did I tell you, we got rain! Over TWO inches of rain yesterday! Praise the Lord! It was the first since August  I never knew rain could sound so good!

14 comments :

  1. I just found your blog via an oregon cottage. Lovely blog! I'm reading through recipes and wanting to try some of the crackers and lower-sodium mixes you mentioned in previous posts. I agree with you... praise the Lord for rain. I love the smell of it! Anyway, for the apples you purchase, how do you store them? We live in a suburban area and do not have a cold storage area - only a finished & partly unfinished basement. I've been wanting to make applesauce to can, but my canning skills are beginner and I'm a little afraid that I might make a bad batch.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog and visiting again. (We're not Mennonites, but we are Christians and we homeschool too.)

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  2. Ellen - So glad you came to visit!

    I don't have a good place to store apples either. Thankfully, I live where it "usually" gets cool in the fall. I can keep apples for a while in the unheated part of the basement. I keep some in the fridge drawers which are now empty since my garden is basically finished.

    But most of my apples goes into applesauce. And I consider applesauce one of the easiest things to can. Maybe I should do a tutorial! You can also freeze applesauce but I don't usually have the extra room.

    We have a local orchard that shares there walk in cooler space. If you buy apples from them, you can keep them in their cooler and help yourself to your bin any time you wish all winter. Maybe you can find someone who does the same in your area!
    Gina

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  3. Yum, apples! I made applesauce and apple butter for the first time this week (Ellen, give it a try!). I've done almost a bushel of apples and definitely want to get more. This year's "seconds" are better (and cheaper) than first-quality that we got at another orchard last year. Definitely pays to look around. Looking forward to your apple recipes!

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  4. Hi Gina- wondering if you could email the orchard with the -I think you said $8. a bushel apples? Also, wondering if you know of any soap demonstrations for this month or if she left. I think you should know what I mean.
    Thanks much... and yes, wasn't the rain just lovely!

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  5. I just found your blog and you are a girl after my own heart. I love canning and gardening. i saw you had a problem with your sauerkraut so thought Id give you my recipe. My mom is in her 80's and she makes extra cash by selling her sauerkraut at a local fruit stand here in western nc. She did 600 quarts this year and most have already sold. heres how she an d I make it. Chop your cabbage. put 1/2 tsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp sugar in bottom of quart jar. Filll half full and add another 1/2tsp salt and 1/2tsp vinegar. Fill and on top add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ball pickle crisp or if you cant find that use alum. Put the lids and rings on and set the jars in a large plastic tote and cover with cold water. I use the water hose. Every day refresh with cold water for 7 days. then the sauerkraut is done and you can take it out of the cold water and store. Its wonderful.

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  6. And I was ecstatic over $8 a bushel- thanks for bursting my bubble ;D

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  7. I'm with you. Rain is great. We have had a brief dry time but it has rained the last couple days. They are saying much more is on the way tomorrow. I noticed this morning that during the night we must have had lots of water, 'cause the end of the driveway is washed out into the street.

    My daughters gave me a Macoun apple tree for mother's day this year which is my favorite. It had one apple this year :) We have hopes for more in the future of course, but one was good for a little new tree.

    Till our trees start producing we go around and gather "wild" apples. These trees grow up all around here either around old cellar holes or planted by birds or deer. Some of them have quite tasty apples. This year a home nearby has a tree out front and they were not picking the large fruit so I stopped to talk to the owner and got permission to pick. I came home last night with two bushel. The apples have spots and most are bumpy because these trees are not sprayed, but they taste so yummy. I made a little apple sauce last night and it was soooo good.

    Does anyone know of a recipe for apple butter without using sugar?
    I have one recipe I might try, but it calls for maple. Not sure if it is to sweeten or thicken or just for the maple flavor. I'm still looking for a tried and true no sugar recipe.

    Thanks for the lovely post... like you little helper :)

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  8. I have the same problem with applesauce. I canned ALOT last year and ran out. I also love my canned apple pie filling. And did some canned sliced apples last year also. That works great for a quick apple crisp.

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  9. WE LOVE apples here too, have been canning sauce and need to can more it seems we always run out too. I am hoping Lord willing we will get to go to the orchard this weekend so I can put of more sauce! So thankful you got rain!
    Joy

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  10. When I was reading your post I automatically thought of this song "I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck".

    I was singing this song to my children the other day and they stopped me and said, "What is a bushel and a peck?" I told them that I *think* it is a unit of measurement but I'm not sure the real amount. Since you mentioned it, please tell me. What is a bushel and a peck? How much is each?

    thanks for the answer!!

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  11. Hi Gina,
    I've been following your blog for a little while now and love it!
    I have tried several of your recipes and am never dissapointed. I made a big batch of apple sauce and froze it a couple weeks ago.
    Our local orchard allows us to pick up all the apples we want off the ground for free. They said they legaly can't sell them. Most of the apples are perfect, some have a few spots that need cut off. My father in law has a cider press and we make a lot of apple cider with them! I don't know if any of the orchards in your area would let you do that, but it might be worth a shot. You can't beat free! We really enjoy going as a family and pulling wagons around and picking up the apples as well.

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  12. Shannon -
    I'm not sure how to describe the size of a bushel. In the post, the crates and bushel basket in the back of my van are all bushel size. I can carry a full bushel but not very far or very fast! Does that give you any idea? A peck is 1/4 of a bushel.

    Nicole-
    My dad has an apple cider press too! If we can find a very cheap (or free) source of apples we love getting together to press cider. Sometimes we can find free drops to pick up but not every year. And usually it is later in the season and I was afraid to wait for my applesauce! Around here, a lot of orchards sell drops for deer apples. But maybe I just need to do some more asking.

    Gina

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  13. Love this time of year. Just took my children to a farm market this morning and picked up some apples for eating. I always wait to do applesauce with my family. We make it into a huge all day party. Have lots of fun and come away with plenty of apple sauce.
    I hope you'll share some of your apple recipes with us. I'm sure they are amazing. I have some apple crisp in the over baking right now that smells sooooo good!

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  14. "Sharon in Carolina"-- thanks for the sauerkraut recipe. I will have to try that next year. I've never had luck with sauerkraut before, but this sounds super easy and feasible. Thanks for sharing!

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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