apple season: a windfall of recipes from my friends

FROM AUGUST THROUGH OCTOBER, the natural symphony outside has the oddest percussion section: Thud. Plunk. (Short silence.) Thud-thud-thud-plunk. (Long silence.) Thud. That’s the sound of apples picking themselves, giving in to gravity, buckets and bins full daily from my giant trees. The word for fallen fruit is windfalls—and indeed, they are my great good fortune, my frequent breakfast or dessert. All I had to do was love the ancient trees with regular pruning, and they delivered more than enough material for all that—and for this week’s Fall Fest topic: apples. Want some great recipes from my co-conspirators?

I admit it: I was too busy making applesauce to cook up anything else for you today. Mea culpa. But I do put up 40 or so containers a year, so it’s no small feat. Those are just two days of windfalls (top photo) waiting by the door for their chance to become sauce, or even easier, juice, thanks to my old Acme juicer—and it freezes well, too; just leave lots of headroom for the liquid to expand, and use straight-sided and/or wide-mouth freezer-safe jars. More on freezing in glass jars here.

Because I know my apples are not sprayed, I don’t peel when juicing or making applesauce—except to remove serious blemishes. For sauce, I simply quarter and core the fruit, and pile it up in a covered spaghetti-sized pot with barely a coating of water in the bottom, and cook on low until it all breaks down. You could also use a slow cooker. A potato masher helps once things are softened, but I don’t blend, either—a matter of personal choice. I like mine chunky, and pink (above). The red skins provide the dye.

So if you’re looking for me, knock on the kitchen door–or maybe I’ll be up a tree out back, between batches. My lichen-covered old guys are more than 40 feet in diameter, with plenty of good places for me to sit comfortably and think. Now for the really good Fall Fest recipes:

This Week’s Links: Apple Delights

What’s a Fall Fest?

FALL FEST IS A cross-blog recipe (and tip) swap–and you’re invited to participate. Simply post your link or recipe or idea in the comments below my post, and also on the blogs of the other participants listed in the recipe links box just above.

Want more information on how it all works? Get the details (and the schedule for upcoming weeks, including our shift into Fall Fest last week after many weeks of Summer Fest, with a new logo but the same recipe-sharing routine). We’re continuing right into the Thanksgiving holiday.

  1. susan says:

    I have been on the receiving end of your grand old apple trees. My freezer and my stomach thank you.

    I have used your recipe for my applesauce and love it. Simple and naturally sweet.

    My next chore will be apple butter, I will core, peel and cook for a long time.

  2. your apple crop is just stunning! it’s our dream to have a crop like that, maybe one day.
    Pruning is definitely something we need to do more often to get higher yields. We’re always forgetting to do it during the right time and we get way more growth than fruit.

    Love the photo of you i the tree, you’re so at peace.

  3. Leah says:

    We used to take our kids up to the Santa Ynez Valley when they were younger to pick apples. Now that they’re older and busy with other activities, it’s more difficult to find the time. It’s unfortunate, because we really enjoyed doing it. The apples from that region are some of the best I’ve ever tasted (right on par with the wines). I can’t think of a better way to spend an autumn weekend than to go wine tasting and apple picking with the family!

    I haven’t had the time yet this year to write an apple post, but here are a few from the past with recipes that are sure to please every apple lover out there.

    Apple Gouda Quesadillas with Spicy (Spiked) Cider: http://www.wineimbiber.com/index.php/2008/10/trader-joes-tuesday4/

    Chipotle Apple Pecan Cake with the most sublime Spicy Caramel Glaze:

    Apple-Almond Upside Down Cake:

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome to all of you, and especially to ones I think (from their usernames) are new faces: Leah and Rachel and Kathleen and ‘Feast’. So good to have you (and your apples!) all here. Hope it’s the start of an ongoing conversation. See you soon!

      @vegetariannirvana: Cider os very good frozen — again, just leave headroom (unfilled space) in the containers. You can freeze in plastic cider bottles as long as you do that — a few inches empty at the top, or else. :) But very good frozen. I used to freeze a year’s worth in a chest freezer many moons ago; now I just do the juice, but same deal. :)

  4. Ilona says:

    This has been an exceptional fruit year for me, although I’m not diligent to harvest, as you are. I have a self sown apple tree outside my kitchen window, which has very nice McIntosh type apples ( I had a compost pile there when I first gardened this place… which has long since moved elsewhere on the lot.

    My tree is young… and doesn’t afford the peaceful sitting spot that your does. sigh, you look at one with the world :)

  5. Tara says:

    Oh, how I wish I had an orchard! Or even one tree! Luckily, we’ve got an organic orchard not far from our house, so we ‘make do’ with getting our apple-picking fix there.

    I just made applesauce yesterday, almost as simply as yours. Instead of water, I’ve taken to adding a bit of cider instead. Plus some cinnamon. Eaten warm, with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt, it’s one of my favorite Fall breakfasts.

    I’ve also been making and canning batch upon batch of apple butter. Here’s my recent write-up of it:

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Tara. Cider is great in the bottom of the pan, I should have said that! Thanks for the great tip. I made apple butter last year, and should do another big batch with the late apples. It was such a treat, but boy, it cooks way, way, down doesn’t it? :)

  6. Tara says:

    Thank you, Margaret, for the warm welcome!

    Yes, apple butter is certainly a lesson in the condensing powers of heat and time! A packed slow cooker usually yields me about 2 1/2 pints. Which is why I’m never done after just one batch!

  7. Joan from Minnesota says:

    Growing up, we had a family tradition of ordering a bushel of local pie apples (Northwestern Greenings), and spending an entire day making and freezing apple pies- We called it Mama’s Pie Factory and made about thirty in all. Throughout the winter, my mother would take a pie out on Sunday afternoon, bake it with a roast, and have a simple supper. When my own kids were small, we continued the tradition with lots of Aunts and cousins, modifying the lard crust to butter to accommodate vegetarians. While my mother is no longer with us, we still have our tradition of apple pie, although I find myself more often freezing sliced apples for apple crisp, which my own children prefer to pie (no accounting for some people’s taste). Thanks to all for the great apple recipies. I think I’ll go outside and pick me a few.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Leah. Funny, I am about to make apple butter starting today! Perfect timing, as I am curious about how others make it. Thank you!

  8. Charlene says:

    Do you do anything to your apple trees for insects or diseases? I know you don’t use chemical sprays, but I was wondering if you use any organic preparations?

    1. Margaret says:

      Hi, Charlene. I do not spray, but there are less-toxic methods that can be used, such as lime-sulfur sprays (instead of chemical fungicides) and some horticultural oils and so on, plus traps that can be used to attract certain pests, etc. But my trees are very big, and old, and I couldn’t get all the parts of them covered from ground-level myself. Would need to hire someone… I keep meaning to explore Grow Organic Apples and other websites about the subject. There is a list of resource links if you scroll down this UMass bulletin. An update: a new NY Times article talked about organic apple growing.

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