Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Continuing Adventures of Foraging for Apples

So yesterday, after the farm market, I decided to pay another visit to the apple tree at the end of our block. This time in addition to my son I was armed with the Radio Flyer, and a good size bag. I passed my Father-in-Law on the way, and he said I should probably ask Mrs. W. if it was okay to hunt and gather, since technically, she planted the tree - even though it is on public property.

So, I knocked on the door, and she was pleased that I wanted to do something with them. Her son happened to be visiting, and said they make wonderful sauce, to which I replied that I already knew since I had gathered a few earlier. He was actually going to do the same thing, and as we plucked apples from the ground (and he had a fancy apple grabber to collect from the actual tree) he told me that his mother had planted the tree from a seed 30 years ago. They are Duchess apples, and she has won blue ribbons at the State Fair for pies made from its incredible fruit.

Ordinarily, I don't get all that excited about apples. I think come fall, though, every human at least in climate changing areas has some peculiar longing for them. It's been chilly here this past week, mid 60's for the highs with the overcast gloom that reminds us Midwesterners to get out and soak up the last remaining of the T-shirt weather before we take to our homes until April.

Both in and out of the context of weather, however, these Duchess apples really are a delicious thing. My Mom has canned applesauce for years, and I confess to robbing her stores when I need it - so I really do know what the real thing tastes like. But the sauce made from these apples truly was something special. Maybe I'm romanticizing a bit since they were somewhat neglected and abandoned, but they didn't need a speck of sugar, and I just gently simmered them in a heavy pot with a cinnamon stick.

After an hour or so of gentle bubbling, I strained them through my inherited china cap and marveled again at the blushy pink color. I have a pretty large bowl, maybe 8 cups or so, from the half a Trader Joe's bag of apples I collected yesterday, and I am gloriously renewed in my love of the apple.

The picture above was the smaller first batch from the other day, Sasa was here for lunch, and between the three of us, it was gone in one sitting. I guess I can add another food to the list that Boy-O will eat...though he did occasionally eat my Mom's applesauce before. Maybe he's excited since he helped me pick them up (well, pick some up, and throw the others like baseballs...).

Maybe another harvesting event will take place for me at the end of my street later in the week. I'm also looking forward to experimenting with some of the more unusual varieties that I've seen at some of the farm markets... Either way, I'm thankful to Mrs. W. for some of the best sauce that I've ever had.

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