Cider Press Hill

Freshly picked apples

Wednesday, 4:22 am

Yesterday while I was out and about, I decided to swing by the nearby apple orchard. It was a spur of the moment decision, but since I was already out and in the general vicinity....

Autumn is all about fresh apples and bright orange pumpkins. For me, anyway. Add a bright blue sky, a big white barn, and a few turning leaves and it’s a postcard scene. The apple farm has been around for many years. It used to be a working dairy farm and the barn still has its stalls and pens intact. Each is used for a particular product—lots of home made preserves, pickles, and relishes are sold on consignment during apple season. Off to the side in one section of the big barn is a bakery devoted to fresh donuts. They are made pretty much the old fashioned way without a lot of commercial equipment. The result is the kind of donut that makes a Dunkin Donut or a Krispy Creme pale by comparison. Walking into the barn is a pure holiday for the nose.

There were a dozen or so varieties of apples for sale yesterday. All freshly picked that morning. The small handwritten signs attached to the huge bins of apples tell what they are best used for and why. Some hold their firm flesh during baking. Some nearly melt into a smooth sauce. Others are tart for baking and some sweet for eating. I chose a peck of McIntosh. They are best for apple sauce. I like their consistency in pies, too. On my way out, I bought one donut to munch on the way back to the car. Only one. It’s a yearly treat reserved for visits to the apple farm.

On the way home, the bag of apples sitting in the passenger seat next to me started giving off an incredible aroma. A few miles down the road the whole car sweetened with apple scent. I reached over and selected one from the top of the bag. Partly green and partly red, it looked plump and firm. Now, for most of the year, I’m accustomed to biting into supermarket apples, which are mushy and mealy by mid-winter. I forget, every year, what a fresh McIntosh is like. I bit into the apple and it was crunchy. And juicy. And so tart that my face puckered up, yet sweet at the same time.

According to the farm’s handwritten signs, the McIntosh are best used within three days of picking. They’ll last for much longer, but with time the tartness fades and sweetness grows. For baking, they are the very best soon after picking. I didn’t get to work making apple sauce or a pie yesterday. Which leaves me with two more days before the apples begin to lose their tartness. The canning jars are all assembled and waiting for their hot water bath. I think I’ll get started with apple sauce making today. The house will be redolent and as the fragrance pours out the back door, it’ll make the honey bees crazy. Before I’m finished there will be at least a couple clinging to the screen door trying to figure out how to get to the source of that fragrance. It happens every year.

Posted by Kate on 09/2805 at 04:22 AM

Well that means I better get on it today lol. We picked ours on Sunday. Ya, my Martha days are long, long gone! Though E is very happy with my, I am so bored with cooking the same thing I need to try new recipes a few nights a week, faze.
I have learned two new Chinese/Asian dishes, a couple of Italian (ya who knew I didn’t have all those down pat lol) A few new seafood dishes. And this week we are going to have Mexican. Not new just haven’t had it in a while.
I was actually thinking of signing up for some cooking classes, just for fun. Are you interested? I thought it would be something legitimate to get me out of the house once a week or so lol. We haven’t done anything fun together for years!

Posted by justme on 09/28  at  09:10 AM

Cooking classes? That could be kind of fun. I’ve been thinking that over today and it’s telling that I didn’t jump all over the suggestion right away.  LOL
What kind of cooking classes?

Posted by Kate on 09/28  at  05:47 PM

What??? No freshly squeezed cider? Hot mulled cider for those chilly fall nights, nothing beats it.

Down here they’d rather let it turn hard or make applejack with it.

Posted by Phillip on 09/28  at  06:35 PM

Oh, I’ll get some of their cider before the season is over. Needs to be a little colder out first.

What I’d like to know is how to make cider vinegar. Years ago I lived in a very old house and one day I found a glass gallon jug tucked up in the basement rafters. It was an old jug of cider that had turned to vinegar. It had some crusty substance on the top that I subsequently learned was called ‘mother’ (could be used as a starter in a new jug of cider) and the vinegar was fine to use. It beat the heck out of anything you’ll ever get out of a Heinz vinegar bottle. I’ve tried to let cider turn a few times since and all I ended up with was moldy cider.

Posted by Kate on 09/28  at  08:33 PM

Well I didn’t mean to scare you lol. I looked on line for some classes. Didn’t come up with much around here. I came across I think one in Cambridge. About $80 a class, few choices though.
I was hoping that NECO would have some fun ones coming up but, none that I could see. I will keep checking and let you know if I come up with anything.
I guess (yikes someone smack me back to reality please) it’s fall and I am feeling all domestic LOL. Dang if this is what Fall is going to do to me now that I am back, I think I need to plan a vacation to someplace sunny and very warm every Fall!
Maybe after I bake a couple of pies, make some apple sause and apple crisp I will get over it! Or I just won’t ever want to see another freaking apple lol.

Posted by justme on 09/29  at  10:02 AM

Absolutely nothing better than a nice tart Mac!!! . Excellent choice Kate. Macs are my favorites, smile and all we have right now are Gravensteins, ... :(

monkey dance

Posted by LynnR on 09/29  at  08:07 PM