One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to go apple-picking. In fact, it is on our Family Bucket List for Fall, that I posted about last week. It gets you off the couch and outdoors, breathing the crisp, fresh fall air.
We went to Center Grove Orchard, which is also one of our favorite pumpkin farms. This day, we skipped the squash, and headed right to the apples. Or so I thought. It used to be that the U-Pick apple trees were right in front of the main building, but with all the expansion they have done, that isn’t the case. Now, you go clear through the building to the ticket counter, get stickers for apple-picking, and then you have to wait for the hay-ride to take you back to the apple orchard. Not that I’m complaining about the hay-ride. The little boys loved that.
When we got back to the orchard, we got to buy bags for the apples and THEN, finally, we were in the orchard. We walked clear to the back of the orchard, to get to the apples we could reach. We picked Cameo, Jonagold, and Chieften varieties. The Cameo and Jonagold are for fresh eating, the Chieften are for canning and pies (PIES!).
The apples here were nice and low, and easy for the boys to pick without help. And of course, there was a lot apple-tasting going on.
Once we picked the apples and filled up the bags though, we realized, “How are we going to get all these apples back to the car? Or the hay-ride, for that matter?” I’ll tell you, a bushel and a half of apples is not light, and two toddlers are no help at all. Struggling, we managed to get the apples to the hayrack. Once we got back to the main building, we spotted a wagon!
Of course, this portion of the trip could not have happened without the help of our little guys. I really don’t know how we could have made it otherwise.
It was funny, though, how many people were amazed by the amount of apples we had. Several people said, “Wow! What are you going to do with all those apples?” A few older ladies asked if we were going to make applesauce. One person asked if we were going to make a pie.
The answer is yes, all of those things, but so much more than that. People have lost touch with the art of preserving. We are so used to going to the store and buying a jar of applesauce, that we don’t think about making our own anymore. Besides applesauce and pies, I find it a challenge to come up with ways to use the apples to make interesting things. For example, the apple salsa I made this weekend, is something you aren’t going to find in most stores.
Would it be a lot cheaper if I had my own apple trees? Yes, of course. And that will happen, when we get our farm. Until then, our family will do what we can to put food back. The experience of picking the apples, and the act of preserving them connects us to our past and grounds us to the Earth. Everytime we eat something we made with the apples, we have ownership in the process.
Okay, for now I will get off my soapbox, because I have work to do. I have recipes to plan and apples to cook, and these apples aren’t going to peel themselves.