When in Washington, pick apples

According to The Washington State Department of Agriculture website, Washington state is first in the nation for apple production. Technically this number excludes non-commercial trees, but don’t tell that to the two in my aunt and uncle’s yard. Last year they invited me to come by and pick some. With The Little Helping in tow I filled a large basket and tried my hand at canning. The modest haul produced some lovely snacks and a dozen quarts of apple sauce.

It is entirely possible that last year’s success made me a little overconfident.

This year we turned picking into a family affair. Our trio trooped over on a crisp sun drenched Sunday for some rustic family time. The five of us launched full steam into plucking fruit from their sagging branches. Filling my small hamper only made a dent in the crop. Next we moved on to shopping bags – large ones. When all was said and done we had a heaped hamper and an overflowing red wagon. Back at home I was a little less confident.

I offered apples to a couple who happened to be passing by the house. No luck. My neighbor picked a few. The she reciprocated with a bag of Italian Prunes and another of Apple Pears. At the end of the exchange my pile of fruit had increased! Perhaps this is the untold meaning of “be fruitful and multiply.” If an apple a day does in fact keep the doctor away, our family may be able to go without health insurance for the next year!

In the meantime I have started making and canning apple sauce. The first 7 quarts were rich with cinnamon and bits of caramelization from the bottom of the pot. I have plans to preserve a few more batches infused with flavors like fresh ginger, vanilla bean, and a variety spices. They will come in handy as baking ingredients, simmered with roasts, or spooned over oatmeal. The Little Helping is doing his part and consuming between one and three of the rust colored fruit every day!

As much as we appreciate a pantry full of homemade apple sauce, I have been exploring more ways to use our bounty. The results have been five star across the board. You’ll hear more about those ideas and get some new apple recipes in future posts!

If you would like a more detailed description of making apple sauce, check out last year’s post: APPLES! Picking, Saucing, Canning.

Read more from Rose McAvoy at Our Lady of Second Helpings.

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