Category Archives: Apples

In the Land of Trees and Apples

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Fall in New England, with more apples than we know what do with. We start by eating vast quantities and then move on to applesauce. Um, by the way, have you eaten the Honey Crisp apple? Oh yum, I can now die a happy woman.unnamed-15 Finally, after seven years, our apple trees are bearing fruit. We don’t spray (because I’m lazy and afraid of chemicals) so our apples are not “perfect,” on the outside, but they sure are perfect on the inside. There’s a lesson somewhere in there, isn’t there?unnamed-5 We also picked up all the drops from a tree at Hogwarts on Columbus Day when we all miraculously had one full free day, with no other obligations except apples. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do applesauce this year. But Brynne persisted – and I’m glad she did! “It’s a tradition, mom!” And traditions must be followed.unnamed-6 The weather could not have been any more perfect, where I could cut and core apples outside (surrounded by bees 🙂 The colors were popping!unnamed-4 I didn’t feel guilty about not cutting off every speck of apples – off to the compost it goes (as the chickens are no longer.) It comes from the ground and goes back to the ground.unnamed-7 After the apples are cut, they are put in a small bath, and onto the stove until they are mush. unnamed-13 Then it’s all pushed through the strainerunnamed-11 Out comes the applesauce! unnamed-9 The seeds and skin all get pushed out another chute.unnamed My 6th-grader, the newly-appointed domestic diva. She loves cooking.unnamed-3 Her sister was especially helpful! Paige was in her pioneer clothes…obviously acting like a lady.unnamed-8  The green funnel (from Amazon) makes this job so much easier when you’ve got small-mouth mason jars.unnamed-10 The applesauce doesn’t need any help, but we give it a touch of sugar and cinnamon. Mmmm. Brynne likes it best served warm.unnamed-2 What you don’t gobble, you can can. Can you do the can can? Think Thanksgiving and neighbor gifts! For the step-by-step canning, Click HERE.unnamed-1Our neighbor, Mr. Goody, is the best. So he gets applesauce. We know that in a few weeks he’ll be plowing us out of our driveway. We’ve got to make sure he feels appreciated. And doesn’t he have the best neighbor name evuh’?

DSC_0101 But don’t worry, you don’t have to give it all away.

DSC_0118I give full permission to lick the jar clean…

Happy Fall!

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How to Make Applesauce

Miles run this morning:  8.1
Days left until Half-Marathon:  9
Days literary agent has been reading my full manuscript:  3

Have I ever mentioned I’m impatient?  It is good to get my mind on other things other than that literary agent loving or hating my book.  Like Fall.  It’s here!  I love it so.  The crisp, drier air makes me feel like running outside, crunching through leaves and cooking more…something my children appreciate as I have not done much of that lately.  Let us move on to a truly wonderful fall activity.

Domestic Goddess Project #2:  Applesauce.

I’m telling you, that after your peaches AND your applesauce canning, you can hang up your apron for awhile.  You’e done your duty.  Let’s not think about the holidays coming quite yet.

I have not actually procured any apples yet; we’re too busy!  Soccer is taking over our lives (we secretly kind of like that) and I haven’t been able to do anything about apples.  Not yet.

It’s still early in the season, but I’m setting aside a couple of hours in the next few weeks to get my applesauce yum on.

Are you ready?

1.  First, you need your supplies. I use the Back to Basic applesauce strainer. You’ll also want to get Bell jars, lids, and tops.  I see them everywhere at the grocery store right now. Get ahead of yourself and wash the jars in the dishwasher on short cycle. (There are other way to make applesauce without equipment.  Google.)

It may seem like a lot to buy this equipment, but since I’m going to do this every year (I hope!) it’s worth it.

2.  Then, of course, you need the apples.  You can have your monkeys climb trees to reach them.

They’re not always the most efficient labor pickers though

The last few years I’ve gone to Appleview Farm in Pittsfield, NH where, for $11-$16, they sell “2nds” or “drops”by the big burlap bag (bushel) you sling over your shoulder.  These are the apples you want to use, not the perfectly edible ones hanging on the tree.  I may be able to get some from my neighbor, Big Rembrandnt (left), if he doesn’t eat them all. He’s kind of  a pig. Actually a water buffalo.
Welcome to my neighborhood!

You can count on 12-13 quarts per bushel.  Sometimes that’s all I feel like doing.

3.  Now.  Wash the apples.  Use your hose and do it outside for less mess in the kitchen.

4.  Cut up the apples using an apple cutter or a knife.  Personally, the apple cutter is a little quicker so that’s what I do.  Do NOT peel the apples.  There is no need as your machine is going to get those babies off for you.  You do want to get rid of the rot unless you don’t have a problem eating it.  (I do.)

5.  I don’t feel guilty about dumping the cores or waste b/c I feed them to the chickens.  Or at least I used to before the weasel got ’em.  Now I simply throw them in the garden for compost.  Cool.

6.  Grab your two big pots.  Or borrow some.

Fill the pots with your cut up apples and enough water to cover the bottom only.  This is subjective; the more water, the more watery the applesauce.  But not enough water and you’ll get applesauce that is way too thick.  Experiment.

Inhale. Your house will smell divine.

While your apples are getting mushy (about 15-20 min) you can set up your applesauce making strainer/contraption on the kitchen table. I wanted to do it outside, but it doesn’t fit on the picnic table.  Grab two more big bowls.  BIG.  Also get an 8×11 pan, sugar and cinnamon out and put on table.  Go check on your apples.

7.  Once the apples are pretty mushy, use your hot pads to carry them over to your strainer and pour into top.  Pour to brim.  Careful!  It’s hot.

Take a moment to go back to the stove and fill up your big ol’ canning pot (saw them at Wal-mart just yesterday) with water and turn on high.

8.  Use your pusher to push the apples through while your turn the handle.  This is where your kids can help – they love to turn that handle.  The machine will take the nice mushy apple and discard all the seeds, skins, and hard core pieces.  Repeat until your apples are gone.

See that applesauce coming on down?  Yea!  It worked!

9.  Empty out your applesauce pan when needed into one of your BIG bowls.

10.  Stir in sugar and cinnamon.  I like to use less b/c it tastes so naturally delicious!  And because sugar is bad.  Spoon applesauce into your prepared jars.  Put on lids.

11.  Bring prepared jars back to your stove where hopefully, your water is now boiling.  Put jars into boiling water.  Make sure the water covers jars.  Bring back to rolling boil and let jars sit for about 30 minutes.  You’ll know they are sufficiently canned because when you press on the lid, it doesn’t “pop” back at you.  Take out jars with tongs and let cool.

That’s it.  Really.

I never thought I’d be the sort of person who “canned” but this is what motherhood has done to me 🙂  And it’s good stuff, I tell you.  How much do you pay for a jar or applesauce?  Over $2-3 dollars?  I priced this out one year and figured I was paying $.83 cents/per jar.  And it’s homemade.  The initial investment for the equipment and jars is money, but then you have it forevuh’!

How long does applesauce last?  About 2-3 years.  We eat it way faster than that.

Who knew domesticity could be so much fun?

Maybe I’ll tie a ribbon around the jars this year.  One small step closer to Martha…

Questions?  Ask me and Paige.  We’ll give you the scoop.

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apples and more

The apple orchard in Pittsfield more than makes up for its name.  Especially if you’ve got kids, this is a great treat.  For $7 you can go on a hayride, pick a peck of apples, play on the playground and bouncy house, pet the animals, and get a bowl of ice-cream.  When my children are all in school, can I borrow yours?  I don’t ever want to miss out on this outing!
Paige and her apple buddies.  We’ve eaten so many apples this fall we must be super healthy by now.  Do you know how good apples are for your health?  They deserve their own blog post.

At this apple farm, they hire Haitians to pick their apples.  They can’t find Americans who will do the job.  the Haitians come for the blueberry season and stay through the apple season and then return home.  They wear these giant bags around their necks.  I was hoping to say hello.
They have to be very careful that the apples roll into the bin; bruised apples don’t sell.

The bruised ones are the ones I get – not for eating, for applesauce.  This year I only got one bushel.  For $6.50 I can make about 14 jars of applesauce.

This year all the kids wanted to help without me even asking.  Mmmm…I love the smell that wafts through the entire house when we make applesauce.  And I LOVE this contraption that takes off the skins and puts out beautiful sauce.  A gift to myself last year and very worth it.
This is very serious business.

There was no school friday so we tried out a new farm our friend Lindsey loves…Beech Hill Farm, just outside of Concord.  It was great!  And I loved Nelson’s big smile with the goat.

The older kids were very excited for the corn maze.  I had to take a picture in honor of my beloved Nebraska, peaceful prairie lands…

Gorgeous gourds…is a pumpkin a gourd?

A petting zoo

And a cute and quaint country store with marvelous ice-cream.  I must have this bench Brynne sat on. 
Also at this great little store they were selling peaches and applesauce.  Canned Peaches for $7 and applesauce was $6.50!  My little brain started a whirling…Homemade applesauce on Emery Road…Maisy Mak Granola Snack.  My brother Patrick says it reminds him too much of Aunt Gemima.  I’m not actually sure I’d like to make applesauce and granola full-time, but it’s fun to dream about a venture like that.  Gregor said, “I’m all in favor as long as I’m not involved in making mazes in cornfields.”  Party pooper.

Oh and the mums.  We loved the mums.

Loved the mums.
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Highland Lake Farm

Thus continues a series of farms…there are so many great local farms around here.  Walking through farms and apple orchards in New England is just one of my most favorite things to do.  
We are entering a new phase in our family.  Cope wants to stay home or play with friends.  Nelson still likes to come but wants to bring a friend and has to not smile in photos.  Why is this such a boy thing?  My little girls still indulge me!

“Take my picture,” they say, and pose in dramatic fashion.

This is Peter Zak of Highland Lake Apple Farm.  “Can I take your picture?” I ask.  “Sure!” he says.  He was excited for me to advertise and blog him…so now go and pick some apples!

And then, oh my goodness, it was late September and so hot!  The kids begged to go to the lake for one last swim.  I couldn’t believe they got in.  Cope read in the car.  I sat in the sand and caught up on reading as the sun began to set behind the yellow and red-leaved mountain.  Perfect.

That, I said, was definitely our last swim of the year…although it’s supposed to hit 80 this weekend.
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The Artist and His Buffalos

The day school was cancelled due to bus vandalism, was a magnificent fall day.  It was very odd to have all the kids home in fall weather.  We decided to take a walk up the hill.  Though there is only one child on the street, we always encounter happiness and play in other ways.

Just up the hill is a beautiful old farm dating back to the 1800s.  It was bought a few years ago by an artist and his wife.  They have their work cut out for them!  One of their projects is revitalizing this old apple orchard.  There are hundreds of trees.  Lasts year the project was just pruning them.  They are learning that it’s impossible to have an organic orchard in New Hampshire.  You have to spray the buds or everything will be eaten.

Within the next five years they hope to have the apple orchard thriving.  And then boy oh boy will I have applesauce to make.  Sometimes I dream about have a little store with applesauce, granola, handmade knitted items…knitted by someone else…eggs from my nonexistent chickens, maple syrup made from the trees on my road.  Wouldn’t it be quaint?

Apple trees drop hundreds of apples everyday.  These are called “drops.”  Drops are how I make applesauce.  But drops on this farm go to three very special creatures.

Say hello to Monet, Sargeant, and Picasso.  Did I mention this is an artist’s farm?  

Here Jay feeds one of the water buffalo.  I’m not sure which one this is.  Sometimes they escape and run around the neighborhood.  Sometimes we get a knock on the door – “Have you seen the water buffalo this morning?”  It’s quite hilarious.
Someday I will photograph Jay’s art studio; a converted barn.  His paintings are stunning.  He tells me it’s 97% work and has very little to do with his talent, something I have a very hard time believing.  He’s often commissioned for artwork that sometimes takes him years to complete.  I haven’t yet asked him to paint my children – his works sells for 1000s.  How do I approach the subject?

They come running for apples.

And off we go, back down the hill, taking in Halcyon Valley, which literally translates to “Heaven.”
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All About Applesauce

I did practically the same post last year but I can’t help myself.  This is so much fun.
That great new strainer?  It did it’s job!
Before Hurricane Igor created a monster monsoon in New Hampshire (it feels like a very humid August right now!) Paige and I got our applesauce on:
At Appleview Orchard we bought 2 bushels for $6.50 each.
A lot of apples.
Once again, the apple decorer came through as mom’s best friend.  My friend Kate cuts the apples.  You’ll get a little more sauce by hand cutting, but it’s more time-consuming.  I want easy.
Put a little water on the bottem of a pot.  Fill it up with cut apples.  All the way to the top.  Cook over med. high heat (lid on is faster) until you’ve got some soft mush.
It took a little time to set this up, but once you get it, it’s easy.  Dump apples on top and turn that handle!
Here it comes….no seeds, no peel!
Sugar-free or just a tad of cinnamon sugar.
Oh yum.  It’s really so so good.  Here it is, ready to eat!
Each bushel gave me 18 quarts of applesauce.  If you want to go the canning route and have sauce all year, then put the jars in boiling water – rolling boil for about 30 minutes.
Take out and that’s it!  The lid should be sealed.
This part always makes me nervous.  You don’t want to give a friend rotten sauce.  This has not happened to me yet though 🙂
One bushel took about 4-5 hours.  It takes some work but it’s fun and it’s rewarding.
Get your kid a buddy for the morning.  Paige had Kimble and I hardly had to stop for anything except a snack here and there.
Once you get going, you’ll see how you can be efficient.  Cook apples while boiling cans.
Applesauce is good to eat, it’s super healthy, and makes a great gift.
What’s not to like?
Don’t try to keep your house clean.  Not one room.
But who needs a clean house when you can have applesauce?
Now I’m debating – one more bushel or should we call it good?
Cost Analysis:  $.36 cents per jar.
Pretty good, huh?
I didn’t include the cost of the jar but of course you can reuse them and will only have to buy new seals every year.  I bought my jars and lids at Wal-mart and collected a few from friends.
I’ve also heard you can use old applesauce jars or spagetti jars.
P.S.  It’s much faster and more fun with a buddy.  We’ve still got a month!
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