Apple Harvest at Havenhearth
Fifteen years ago I dug two small holes just north of our garden and gently placed a small, spindly apple tree into each. I shoveled rich, black dirt into the holes to cover the bare roots, packed it tightly and then dubbed the plants our Apple Pie Trees because I knew they would one day produce sweet fruit that we would savor in piping hot pies and steaming apple crisp.
We waited patiently for several years for apples to appear, and when they finally did our first harvest reaped enough fruit to make just one pie. It wasn’t much, but it was delicious. This year the trees were dripping with apples and have grown so high I can no longer reach the fruit on the top branches while standing on a ladder. I will trim them in the spring to keep them manageable.
Harvest began this year with picking a hundred or more fallen apples off the ground. I filled a wheelbarrow with them and discarded them along the tree line of our woods, knowing that the deer would find them and enjoy a tasty treat once winter falls upon the land. Next, I attacked the low-hanging fruit, plucking it from the tree and dropping it into a basket. When I had a bushel, I carried it to the house and the work began.
We have an apple peeler that makes the task relatively easy. With the turn of a crank the nifty devise peels, slices and cores the apple. One by one, I put an apple into the machine, cranked it and watched the thin red peels fall away like frilly, Christmas ribbon. I handed the naked fruit to my wife Jil, who inspected it, carved out any brown spots or imperfections, sliced it in half and dropped the fruit into a pan. Once full, she sprinkled it with flour, cinnamon and sugar and put it in a large plastic freezer storage bag. This continued until we filled enough bags for 18 pies. I calculated that we had at least 10 more bushels ahead of us, a rather daunting task.
The work was slow and methodic and it took us nearly three hours to finish one bushel, but it was an enjoyable time during which we talked, laughed and shared stories. When we finished and were wiping the sticky juice from our hands, Jil smiled at me and said, “I think we’ve started a new tradition." My first thoughts were of how many bushels we had left to go, but later as we pulled a pan of hot apple crisp from the oven and savored the sweet, crunchy treat, I realized it was worth the effort. It’s amazing what two people can accomplish when they are willing to invest a little time to peel away the outer layer, examine what’s beneath, and carve out the obvious imperfections. And how a little sugar and spice makes everything nice.