When we got back from vacation, I went out to check the garden and I noticed that there was an apple tree on top of it.
Apparently, while we were gone, a strong storm had come along and just kind of tipped the apple tree over (it's the tree in the foreground in the top photo of this post). There were no apparent breaks in the trunk, no roots sticking up out of the ground, just an apple tree leaning at a verrrry sharp angle toward our garden and a big lump in the ground near the base.
So, earlier in the week (before it got hotter than Hades around here) my kids wanted to play outside and they said, "Mom, can we pick some apples?" I said of course, because 1. it would keep them busy and 2. I wasn't sure of the health of the tree so I figured we should get the apples now just in case the tree didn't make it- didn't want the apples rotting and falling off- and 3. I didn't feel like picking them. It was hot.
So an hour later, I come downstairs after doing some upstairs cleaning and I look on my counter and I see this:
And the kids are just coming in with more. How many? Well, for educational value I suggested that we count the apples (gotta keep their minds sharp in the summer, you know) and there were 45 apples. And those were just the ones my 7-year-old and 5-year-old could reach. Forty. five.
And so I got to work. I peeled, cored, and chopped 18 of the apples on the first day (they look a little sketchy in the photo, but under their peels they're perfect, tasty granny smith apples), using 10 for applesauce (shown pre-applesauce in the crockpot):
And then 8 for apple fruit leather (same process as applesauce, only less sugar and I cooked it more quickly in a saucepan and then pureed it in a blender).
I would show you the applesauce, but it was so unbelievably delicious that it didn't last long enough for me to get a photo. It was literally so good that my son chose it over chocolate ice cream for dessert one night! Part of the reason was that he knew the chocolate ice cream would still be there the next night. At the rate I was inhaling the applesauce however... (and incidentally, this fruit leather was awesome too. The only reason I have photos is because I made a second batch the next day!)
The third thing I made was "apple peel jelly", which I made by boiling the cores & peels in a small amount of water and then straining it and combining it with sugar and boiling it some more. Turns out apples have their own natural pectin, which is something I learned in this process. My jelly turned out more like syrup, I think because I used too much water and I didn't boil it long enough. But that's okay- I like apple syrup!
Anyway, I had a great time learning what my apples can do for me, and I think that this weekend we will have a little applefest at our house and have a peeling-coring-chopping-cooking spree. After the wonderfully fulfilling experience of enjoying my apple tree's bounty, I wanted to go out into my backyard and hug it (and help it up. Don't worry, we're going to try to gently upright it this weekend).
Have you had a chance to make some delicious dishes from your garden yet this year? Leave a comment and share!
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