Thursday, June 20, 2024

Picking Apples


Today, we picked most of the apples off the one remaining apple tree in the little orchard Grandma and Grandpa planted back when I was in high school.  The yield was good this year, even with only one tree.

Grandpa put the forks on Johnny, his John Deer tractor, and scoped up a pallet for us to set the boxes full of apples on so we wouldn’t have to carry them by hand on foot to the house. We picked three boxes of golden delicious apples and then set the boxes on the palate to be hauled up to the house. Silver-haired Grandpa, hands on the wheel of that John Deer tractor, backed up on the snowball bush lawn right up to the quaking aspen trees that border our property. A strong fall breeze shook those aspens, sending round chocolate-tinted tan quarter-sized leaves floating down all around him and his tractor.

The leaves swirled and twirled, catching the light of the autumn sun. Grandpa caught my eye, and with a grin, he said, “Wow, that’s a bit of a breeze, eh?” Spinning, the leaves floated past the tractor’s plywood roof, past Grandpa’s silver hair and white grin, past his homemade vest and Carhart britches, past his still strong hands holding firmly to the wheel, past the John Deer green paint of the tractor’s body and the boxes full of golden apples on the pallet supported by the two fork prongs connected to Johnny’s lifting apparatus until they hit the rutted dirt under the tractor’s tires to lay still and quiet destined to protect the worms hiding underground in the roots of grass where the chickens hadn’t yet scratched. “Kind of like snow, isn’t it?”

I grinned back and nodded my head up and down. He asked me where I wanted to take the apples. I told him the back deck where Grandma could see them. He mentioned something about giving apples to our neighbors as he jockeyed Johnny’s pallet with the three boxes of apples on it right up to the deck so I could unload them easily.

Hearing Johnny, Grandma came out the door.  As I sat the boxes on the deck table, she said to me, “Make sure to save the nicest ones to share with the neighbors.” So, I did. sixteen of the best apples will make their way into the hands of our neighbors, giving Grandpa an excuse to spend a bit of time with each neighbor, just chatting, being approachable, and letting them know they matter to us.

Two Ways to Make Apple Sauce:

Fresh Apple Sauce for Eating Right Now

Quarter and core a fresh apple, scrape it with a spoon, and eat it as is. (Grandma tells me Grandpa used to feed me this type of apple sauce as a baby. Just remember to pay scrupulous attention to kitchen hygiene when using food this way for the very old and the young because their immune systems may not be as robust as a healthy middle-aged adult.)

Cooked Apple Sauce

4-8 apples peeled and cored                  Water as needed     Sugar to taste (optional)

          Put peeled and cored apples in a small crock pot or a medium-sized saucepan. Let the crock pot cook on low for 4 to 8 hours, or simmer the apples in the saucepan for about an hour until the apples fall apart, adding water as needed. Add sugar to taste if so desired. Serve warm or cold.

Choices: add a pinch of cinnamon or other spice or herb. Freeze for winter use in plastic zip-lock sandwich bags. Find a food-preserving book and figure out how to preserve applesauce for your family’s winter eating.



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