Apple Projects

Our apples ripen in the late summer, rather than autumn, so about this time of year we have a lot of apples to eat. We can eat a good amount fresh, but we don't have a good place to store them long-term, and this time of year there is so much produce to eat! Often the apples end up in the compost. I've always hated this waste and determined this year to mitigate it.

So I've had several apple projects. Back when I summer-pruned the tree, I had a ton of windfall apples, and with those I made pectin, which then was used to thicken our strawberry and peach jams.

A last weekend, I picked a couple of bushels and made apple pie filling, which was a true canning adventure. I used the recipe from Growing a Greener World, and it was complicated! I felt proud of myself for tackling this project. We have five jars of filling for pies this winter.

With the remainder of the apples, I thought I'd make applesauce. Our daughter Kate has Aspergers, and is very picky about what she eats, but she does eat applesauce every day at lunch. Unfortunately she likes those squeeze pouches that are ubiquitous now. She also likes the apple/banana blend that we get at Whole Foods. I dislike the expense and the waste of those packets, so I had hoped to get her involved in making homemade applesauce and putting a 4 oz jar of that in her lunch every day, rather than a packet.  But Kate was pretty clear on the fact that she prefers the pouches, and since it's one of the only dependable fruit products she'll eat, I'm not going to die on that hill.

Plan B - apple juice. Neither of the kids are big juice drinkers, but both will drink apple juice if it's in the house. And I thought some homemade juice might be a good alternative to lemonade or milk in school lunches. After all, no added sugar or any other junk - and seriously fresh and rich with vitamins. So I got cracking.

I used the recipe from our favorite canning book, though the recipe is for grape juice originally, the author just says you can substitute apples or cranberries or any combination of the three. It was a long process, but fun, and smelled good! and I ended up with four and a half pints of gorgeous juice (four for the canning shelf, the half for immediate consumption).

Isn't it pretty? But a lot of work for a very little result. Not sure this is the best use of our apples, either - still searching for the ultimate apple recipe. However, the chickens loved the cooked, discarded pulp at the end of this project.

There are a few apples left on the tree, so I had Tom throw together a pie crust last night, and we'll have a fresh apple pie tonight, as a celebration of the end of all summer camps. Both kids are now home from all their camps and we have August to tool around town and have some day trips and adventures.