A Fruitful Year, Part II
I processed so many apples through this kitchen that it felt like an outpost of Motts on some days. People, it was a fruitful year and our pantry now overfloweth.
Our own apple tree did well this year and whatever EcoBaby didn't yank off the tree (mostly things on the lower branches) we thoroughly enjoyed. Ecobaby was the best consumer of our garden products. She is still yanking freeze dried little grapes off the vine and gnawing on them.
We are lucky to have friends in Santa Fe that have several old apples trees on their property. While they lounged with cocktails on their back deck, we laid out tarps and within moments had shaken free about forty pounds of a mystery apple from their biggest tree. They also casually pointed out a pear tree and I quickly gathered up about twelve pounds of a mystery pear. My best guest is Jonathan/Macintosh for the apples and D'Anjou for the pear. We are not talking ur-apples and pears straight from an Uzbeck sapling but excellent fresh local apples none the less. Then we got handed a fifteen pound sack of more mystery apples (possibly Romes) from a relative's property and those joined the assembly/eating line also. Then I picked about ten pounds of possible Golden Delicious from a neglected neighborhood tree (I repeat, people pick your fruit trees!!)
And, my heavens, they were fresh. These were very tasty apples and pears and I set to work on the bounty. I made about ten-twelve quarts of apple sauce; some preserved in jars for later, some straight into our tummy or applesauce cake. The possible Romes made a lovely pink sauce. I made about six pints of the neutron star of apples: apple butter. Thanks to the slow cooker, I didn't have to fret about scorching and there was minimal stirring (a.k.a. being splattered by bubbling, roofing tar hot apple butter). I did make an apple-pear butter variation which was very successful and was turned into freezer jam.
I made at least two pies, one sitting in the freezer waiting for that perfect cold January when cockles need warming. I made apple crisp and apple turnovers with the assistance of store bought puff pastry. Apples went into savory dishes including a super winning combination of kale (the It vegetable of 2012), roasted sweet potatoes, and sauteed apples.
I didn't have to buy an apple until mid-November and let me tell you that was an odd experience. The store apples looked huge compared to our fresh from the trees ones and they just didn't have the same snap. I had long heard that apples only have so much flavor to go around and mutantly huge tasteless apples were my proof.
We are tremendously grateful for our friends and neighbors sharing their bounty. Our toast thanks you.
For your cooking pleasure:
Old-Fashioned Mixed Apple Pie (this is not too cinnamon-y, for a change)