Peering through my mist speckled glasses, I reached up and pulled one from the heavily laden tree. It was a perfect red one, without a worm hole to be seen, and moist from the morning rain. I bit into it’s crispness and it’s sweet juice gushed forth. Delicious! Like the sound the fallen leaves make as they tumble across my path, apple picking is an autumn delight.
Recently we picked two five-gallon buckets full of the fruit. Beautiful dark red apples, sweet and crisp (“Red Delicious” maybe?), and a variegated red/green/golden type that is not as sweet or crisp but we’ll use in a variety of ways just the same. Our friends never use all of the apples their trees produce so we gladly take them off their hands, before they fall to the ground to rot. As I pull them from the bucket they are glistening, not from an unnatural applied wax, but from the day’s rain. Their sweet smell fills the air as I peel, core and dice for the slow-cooker apple butter that will simmer all night while we sleep. Individual apple crisps will soon be coming out of the oven, only to be replaced with a braided, yeast-raised apple coffee cake awaiting its turn. That delectable treat will be tomorrow’s breakfast.
Although it feels like I’ve been coring, chopping, or slicing apples for hours (hmm, it has been a few hours) I’ve hardly made a dent in one bucket so far. Tomorrow I’ll be canning the first batch of apple butter, and starting a second batch to simmer. We are down to less than three quart-containers of dried apples so I’ll get the dehydrator out too and fill it up. Many a winter evening we snack on a bowl of dried fruit after dinner. And in the summer dried apples make a lightweight snack for along the trail. Apple muffins and waffles smothered in the sautéed fruit are a few of our seasonal favorites. A great dinner dish (main course or accompaniment) is baked acorn squash halves stuffed with chopped apples, raisins and/or dried cranberries, with a dab of butter and maple syrup drizzle. Yummy. My mouth is starting to salivate just thinking about it! We also enjoy caramelized onions and apples with pork chops in the fall when the apple-cup overflows. There will be more apple crisps, cranberry-apple pies (as I see local cranberries are in at the produce market), and baked apples in our future.
Last night we dined at a friend’s home and they served two beautiful, homegrown, stuffed pumpkins. Lifting off the “lids” the wonderful aroma filled the air. We scooped the contents and some of the squash’s orange-flesh onto our plates. These beautiful, plump squash were filled with a mixture of wild rice, fresh cranberries, chopped nuts, and, of course, chopped apples. It’s apple time at their house too.