It’s that time of year again. When the weather turns cooler. The days grow shorter. And certain crops that have been growing all summer are finally ready to be harvested. I’m thinking specifically of apples.
Have you ever gone to an orchard and picked your own apples? Perhaps you have your own orchard or some fruit trees in your yard. That’s even better. It is so much fun to gather your own produce. And you get to pick exactly the ones you want. I understand that if you package them properly you can keep freshly picked apples all year long. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? To go to your refrigerator in the middle of the winter when it’s cold and dark outside, and get a nice hand-picked fresh apple right from your Fridge and eat it?
The key to storing apples all year is dependent upon several things. First, they must be freshly picked from the tree. Buying them from the grocery store won’t work as well. Secondly, they must be free of any type of blemish. No bruises or punctures, so it is best to cut the stems off right away. It goes without saying, I think, that the apples can’t have already fallen from the tree. It is important to remember not to wash the apples before storage. They have a natural protective coating that helps keep them fresh. Just remember to wash them before using them. Lastly, gently pack them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator but make certain the bag has a small opening for moisture or gases to escape. Some people wrap each fruit in paper and put them in a lidded box, then in a cool cellar, but not everyone has such a storage area.
If, when you get home, you find there are some imperfect apples, then make some jelly! Or process and freeze them for desserts later.
Apples are actually one of my favorite fruits. I probably gained that preference from my paternal grandmother. She truly did believe that an apple a day kept the doctor away. And she sat every afternoon in her wooden rocking chair, peeled a fresh apple, and slowly ate it. No doubt, this habit came from the time when she was raising her children. This was the time for her to sit down and have a moment to herself and refresh her mind, body, and spirit.
As a child, I was fascinated to watch her as she did this because she could take off that shiny red covering from the apple so delicately and thinly that you could practically read through it. I have never been able to do that. The key was probably the fact that she did it very slowly and deliberately. I am always in such a rush. Most times, in fact. I don’t even peel my apple if I’m having it for a snack.
In a town near where I used to live, the Chamber of Commerce every year put on what they termed Apple Butter Makin’ Days. It was a lot of fun, like a fall festival. And one of the civic groups every year always made bushels and bushels and bushels of apples into apple butter. It was so good that people came from miles around just to get a jar of it. It’s a pleasant memory. And they still have apple butter-making days there.
I had a friend in that same area who was a wonderful cook. And one of her specialties was apple pie. My youngest son loved her apple pies, and she would always make one just for him whenever we had a special event, like a church dinner or something where we were all going to be together. Because he liked them so much, I literally begged for years for her recipe. But she would not divulge it. Finally, though, after really putting a guilt trip on her, she relented and gave me the recipe. Her secret ingredient was ‘red hots’ candy.
When we first moved to Arkansas, there was a very nice orchard near us that allowed the public to come and “pick your own” apples. So, we gathered up the children and the grandchildren and went to pick apples. The kids had a blast. And we probably picked more than we really needed because by the time we got home and divvied them up, I still had way too many apples to eat fresh. I did not yet know how to keep them during the winter in cold storage. So, my husband and I sat about peeling and coring and slicing and canning apples. We made apples for pie filling, spiced apple rings, apple jelly, apple butter, and I even made some apple leather for the grandchildren. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted by the time that little adventure was over. And didn’t even want to look at apples for a while. But in the cold of winter, it was very nice to take out a container of apple butter for toast in the morning. And know that we had done it all ourselves.
Do you have special memories of some fall activities that you would like to share? I’d love to hear about it. We all have interesting things in our lives, whether we see them that way or not. We all have a story.
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