My mum has a couple apple trees on her property. At harvest each year, she gathers the clan together for apple processing day. We spend the day talking, listening to music, and usually order out a pizza from our favorite local pizza shop.
|Just some of the harvest.
This year we got everyone together: mum and dad, my sisters and their beaus, my grandparents, Trucker and me. We spent six hours working, and produced enough that each family was able to fill their freezer with apple goods. We all pitched in whatever we had access to: apples, freezer bags, cinnamon, sugar or snacks for the workers. We spent around $5 for ingredients and another $5 for freezer bags by shopping sales. We each brought our own knives, cutting boards and a large pot to supplement Mum's kitchen.
Mum picked the apple trees before we arrived so we could get started immediately. She filled a wheelbarrow, 4 5-gallon buckets, 2 large coolers and three large boxes.
Each family received two plastic grocery bags full of apples to eat out of hand. The rest were processed into slices for pie, applesauce, and apple juice. Next year, we hope to try out some new items such as apple jelly, dried apple rings, apple butter, fruit roll ups, and perhaps some hard cider!
I filled up two sinks with water. One sink was filled with apples and we gently scrubbed them before moving them to the rinsing sink. We cut out any really nasty spots.
We peeled, cored and sliced most of the good apples for mum's famous apple pie. We packed the slices into gallon-sized freezer bags. These will save her a lot of money over the holidays as she bakes dozens of pies for parties, family gatherings and church/social functions.
Next came the applesauce making. All of the not-so-pretty apples (odd shaped, small, bug-bitten or fallen) were chopped into large pots. We weren't concerned about having white applesauce, but if we were, we could have added lemon juice to the water while slicing to prevent browning.
We added a small amount of water (about 1/4 c per pot) to help in steaming the apples before they released their juices. We added a lot of cinnamon to each pot. Since some of us have blood-sugar concerns, over half of the apple sauce was left unsweetened. To the remainder, we added about a 1/2 c of brown sugar to each pot. The apples cooked until fork-tender, and then I pureed them in the blender until smooth. By using the blender instead of just mashing the apples with a fork, I could leave the peels on without compromising the texture of the sauce. This saved a lot of time and had the added benefit of a higher fiber content.
Pots and bowls of applesauce were placed on cooling racks all over the kitchen. Once the sauce was cool, we ladled it into quart sized freezer bags. We marked each with the date and whether it was sweetened or unsweetened. The applesauce is great to eat as is, or warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (oh my!). We can also use it in baking cookies, muffins, breads and brownies.
We also made some amazing apple juice. I hope to eventually get my hands on a cider press, but they are so pricey. For now, my dad and I both supplied our juicers. We juiced the cores and peels and ended up with several gallons of juice. This went into one-gallon freezer bags to drink warm during chilly winter evenings.
Any rotten apples as well as the pulp left over from juicing went into the compost bin. How wonderful to know that none of the apples grown went to waste!
I look forward to this day every year. It's a great way to spend time with my family. We also all get to have some amazing organic applesauce and juice almost for free. Not only that, but we are also learning about food preservation and increasing our self reliance.
Originally posted at A Life Beyond Money.