Not too many apples

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More than once, before I went to pick apples with my son and a friend of ours, my wife said, “Don’t bring home too many apples.” It was good advice. A couple of years ago my parents went to pick apples at a local orchard and came home with 50 pounds. “Just a few more” and “this one looks really nice” were uttered a few too many times, apparently. So we went in cautious. We did not pick 50 pounds of apples.

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We took small bags when we got there–ten-pounds-worth bags rather than twenty-pounds-worth bags. We filled one with apples to eat straight up–Honey Crisp, mostly. We filled the other bag with pie apples–Cortlands. We only ate one apple each while in the orchard. But we did eat hot cider and cider donuts back at the orchard’s center. By mistake two of us each bought a dozen donuts. We managed to eat them eventually.

I made an apple crisp the next day. Dang that was tasty. I’ll need to make another one soon. I’m craving some pumpkin pie as well. A warm pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkin, egg whites whipped into it to make it light, now that is a fine bit of sweetness. And with whipped cream? Oy, make me salivate. The orchard had a pile of pie pumpkins. I didn’t get any. Soon, though. Thanksgiving requires that pumpkin pie.

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We have a few apples left, given that we already had some before we went to the orchard, but we are low. There is enough for a crisp, or a pie, if I make one soon. But they won’t last much longer. We keep eating them. I would bake up something with apples every few days if I had the time. But I don’t really have the time to do that. Work and kids and other stuff happening, you know what I’m saying? I guess it really was good we did not pick 50 pounds. My wife gives good advice.

Jam at Least

I did not do a lot this growing season. I planted garlic last fall and recently pulled that from the ground. But I planted no garden. I never picked strawberries of blueberries. We had no farm share this year. Granted, we were away much of the summer, but still, I put up little. I was no gardener or gatherer.

We did manage to get out to pick apples at least. We picked lots of them, many varieties, from Shelburne Orchards, our favorite orchard. The view alone from that place makes a visit worth it. I have made apple crisp a couple of times, and have enough apples left to make one more. And last weekend I made apple jam.

Blueberry and strawberry and other berry jams get all the publicity. They are good no doubt. Huckleberry or marionberry jam can fill the mouth with deliciousness that is hard to beat. But these past few years my favorite jam has been made with apples.

We have an apple tree at our house but it has been unhealthy and bears little fruit now. When it did offer up fruit I made the best jam ever. Those apples are Red Delicious, your classic apple. I have not liked those kinds of apples typically. They are usually mealy, lacking flavor, with tough skins. They hold up well and can be transported without too much damage but that shelf life takes its toll on tastiness. Red Delicious certainly are red–they usually look great in a pile at the supermarket–but they are anything but delicious. The ones from our tree, however, are some of the best apples I have ever had. When I first tasted a ripe one I understood why the variety became so popular. Unfortunately, that popularity has been costly.

My jam is pretty simple–apples, sugar, lemon juice, pectin, some nutmeg. With good apples it is a sweet treat that makes a mean PB and J, if you know what I’m saying. I took a couple of hours to rustle up eight jars. They are still sitting on the counter, waiting to be stored. That growing season lethargy continues, I guess. I have a jar left from last season and will polish that off soon. Then I will taste this season’s batch. I have no doubt it will be good, and it will last into the winter. I have no potatoes or onions or frozen pumpkin this year, but I do at least have some apple jam. It won’t make a meal but it will remind me of the days when blossoms filled the air with their almost supernatural scent, and of bees, and of fruit heavy on branches.

Maybe next year I will be better at taking advantage of the short growing season, of the wonder of fresh food grown myself, or grown by my neighbors. For now, however, I’ll have to settle for some toast.

Apples on a Beautiful Day

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Yesterday was a stunner. Clouds skimming the horizon in the golden light of fall. A warm breeze. Warm but not hot, cool but not cold. The day smelled of grass going to seed and leaves in the corners and apples. So we went to pick some of those apples.

Shelburne Orchards is the spot of choice to pick apples around here. It sits above Lake Champlain so picking apples means walking the rows of fruit trees with a stellar view. We, my daughter and a friend of hers and I, arrived early in the afternoon. The place was as busy as yellow jackets in a cider bucket. Kids, college students, families, older couples. Everybody in the county was represented. And they were all smiling and having a good time in the orchard.

We picked Cortland and MacIntosh. The picking was pretty good but finding the ripe ones was a challenge at times given the crowds that had been through. They have lots of trees, however, so we filled a bag and walked back through the orchard to pay. Of course, they don’t just sell apples, but apple and Vermont products of all sorts–cider (pasteurized and unpasteurized), pies, pre-picked apples (those all look pretty¬†much perfect), maple syrup, and so on. We left the register with half a dozen cider donuts and some cold cider settled on top of our bag of fruit.

We were not ready to leave just yet, however. The girls were hoping for caramel apples but that was a no go–they were not on offer. Instead, we got in line at the Betty Bar. There they served up Betty Cones–waffle cones with vanilla ice cream and warm apple betty layered inside. That was surely the treat to start off autumn. We left with full bellies and enough apples to eat straight up, to cook into jam, and maybe even to make a pie.

There will be apples to pick for a while yet. One pie won’t be enough so I will have to head back, maybe in October for some different varieties. At this point I will even dare to wish for another perfect day.

A Few Scenes From the Week

Here are a few pics from our family’s week. It was a good one.

Snow in the Mountains, October 16

Snow in the Mountains, October 16

Sun Going Down, October 16

Sun Going Down, October 16

At Dead Creek--No Geese but a Turtle

At Dead Creek--No Geese but a Turtle

One View at Dead Creek in Addison

One View at Dead Creek in Addison

Optimists Looking for Birds at Dead Creek

Optimists Looking for Birds at Dead Creek

More Apples From Shelburne Orchard

More Apples From Shelburne Orchard

Milk Snake by the House

Milk Snake by the House