We had a windfall — in more ways than one. The dictionary gives me two definitions: The first is something (such as a tree or fruit) blown down by the wind; secondly, it might also be an unexpected, unearned, or sudden gain or advantage.
With the storm on May 28th, two-thirds of our red delicious tree was definitely a windfall. Not only were we provided with firewood, there was also an abundance of smaller branches to be chopped up for mulch. We’re not even mentioning the gallons of half-developed fruit on the ground and still on the toppled tree. In every aspect of the word, we had a windfall.
It is sort of a shame, because last year there were very few apples and this year there was a bumper crop on the tree, even though the fruit was a number of weeks from being thoroughly ripe. Still, as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In our case, what do we do? We make applesauce, then apple pie, and there are still plenty of apples for jelly.
The latter is definitely a must, because our kids in Alaska like apple jelly and they can’t find it in the grocery stores up there. Hence, this usually goes in their Christmas package along with pecans and other goodies.
We didn’t want to be piggish about this windfall, so we left the deer plenty of the apples, both on the ground and on the branches that were torn from the tree. There are still quite a few on the tree, so that we people and the deer will be able to enjoy ripe apples later in the summer.
With this bounty in our kitchen, I dug out a book that I got many years ago. Home Preserving Made Easy, 1975, was something that I obtained from a gardening book club. It is full of good advice and old-timey techniques. Combined with info from the internet, it’s all I need to try new (or old) means of using our garden’s bounty.
There was, however, one dilemma I encountered. Each set of directions for making applesauce mandated peeling, coring and chopping the fruit. That’s a lot of work for using smaller-than-average apples. Finally, I was saved the work. If I cut the apples in quarters, then put a cup of water to every twelve cups of fruit, simmered that until done, and then put the results through a food mill, I didn’t have to do all the busy work.
I knew exactly where my Foley food mill was, even though it was way at the back of the closet in the kitchen. It worked well.
Why applesauce? Of course, you must have read that recipe for applesauce cake in last week’s paper. I did too and couldn’t wait to make it. I still haven’t gotten around to it just yet, but have a bag with three cups of applesauce waiting in the freezer.
Next on the agenda was apple pie. Not preferring extraneous material in my pie filling (some people don’t peel their apples first), I peeled, cored and sliced the apples. The pie was delicious and is now history. Most of it was devoured while it was still warm — the best way to enjoy it.
So far I’ve made a big dent in the supply of fruit, but will now try cooking the cut-up fruit in smaller batches in the microwave. That’s my idea, not anything I found in books or online. I think it’ll be just fine.
In their present state, the apples are just a bit too tart for eating out of hand, but the flavor is still there and the “zing” is covered up with just a small amount of sugar, possibly even a touch of honey, though we haven’t tried that yet.
I’m still waiting to try the cake recipe, but know that this will grace our table sometime in the near future. Right now, the rest of the apples are still waiting to be processed into goodies, some to be enjoyed immediately and others to be savored next winter.