21 September 2015

U-Pick Apples

She can't help herself when it comes to fresh fruit.
It's apple season again and though we have our own apple trees out front, we were not blessed with a bumper crop this year. The trees are old (we planted replacements, but it'll be several years before they're fruit bearing) and Jack trimmed them drastically to cull the dead and dying parts. There were probably only a dozen apples hanging on the branches and Claire and Kate ate a majority of them while waiting for Evelyn to get off the bus or while I mowed.
Jack is part monkey.
Though we could have gone down the road a few miles to an extensive orchard that sells just about every apple imaginable, I have a difficult time paying for something I've received for free in exchange for some hard work. So, instead, we went down the road where we'd found black raspberries, asparagus and wildflowers and started picking some sweet but small apples in a towering and forgotten apple tree. Jack quickly scaled up to the treetop and, just in time for me to walk under, shook it like a mad ape, pelting me with a shower of fruit. Thanks, dear.
Getting ready to process apples!
Between the poison ivy, swarms of voracious mosquitoes and the tiny fruit, we were a bit discouraged with our find. So, I called up a neighbor who has a few apple trees and asked if we could come pick a few bagfuls. She was more than happy to have us come raid her fruit trees, saying she'd just mentioned to her husband that she wished someone would come and put the fruit to good use. I love when things work out for everyone!
Reach!
The girls, my mom, Jack and I all filled sacks and buckets full of apples. They weren't pretty looking due to their darkened skins--a harmless condition called cedar rust. Once peeled off, a majority of the apple flesh was perfect.
First batch of apple jelly.
The past few days have been a flurry of making apple juice, apple cider vinegar, apple jelly, apple butter, apple fruit leather, and apple pie filling. All the hard work has paid off, even if my nails and the creases of my hands are stained brown. I'm thinking of going back for another load to make some apple sauce for when Henry's ready for solids.
We're more than set with apple pie filling.
I love having (free!) U-Pick Apples in our own neighborhood! Thanks, guys!

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