Pimples and Dimples

Yesterday my son and I had the day off for Columbus Day.  I was sitting in bed early in the morning, drinking my daily cup of jasmine-green tea, feeling sorry for myself (and my son) because I had SO MUCh grading to do for my classes and couldn’t take any time out for fun stuff.  On Saturday, when I had planned to do grading, I had to take my dog to the veterinarian and then the animal hospital — she had been throwing up for four days.  Turns out it was nothing serious, just an upset tummy — but eeghads, it took seven hours and seven hundred dollars to find that out?!!!

Anyway, I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself, remembering how for this three-day weekend I had planned for us to visit our new meat CSA farm’s “open barn,” and there was a cranberry festival going on all weekend that I had hoped on attending as we did last year.  And, of course, apple picking.  We live in New England, and apples are a staple of our local diet.  It is absolutely clear to me that if we are to eat locally, apples must be harvested and processed.

Ah, but papers must also be graded.  Quite a dilemma.  Apples won’t wait. Students need feedback.  Hmmm.

So I chose work.  Grumpily, but I did.

Then two hours later I got a call from M., my friend at church, inviting us to come over and make/can applesauce.  We had been talking about doing this for months, but I figured it wasn’t going to happen.  With M’s phone call, though, I decided this was the universe telling me to dump my grading and make food for my family!

Within a half hour my son and I were at the neighborhood orchard.  One hour later we had picked one and a half bushels of Macoun, Cortland, Empire, and Honeycrisp apples. We swung by the local grocery store to buy some more mason jars (having already used up the ones I bought this summer for jam and dilly beans, etc.) And within two hours of M’s phone call, we were in her kitchen making applesauce and “putting it up” for the coming months.

M. has an antique applesauce maker of large proportions, complete with an eight-inch long, two-inch diameter auger in a mesh tube.  It’s a handy machine, really churns out the sauce.  We merely washed and then cut the apples into fourths (core and all) and cooked them in a little water.  When soft, we ran them through the machine.  Actually, our kids did that part, delighting in the handle-turning and the watching the goo pour out parts.

Once we got the hot jars filled with hot applesauce, into the canning kettle they went.  The kids were eager to see the process completed, at least the first couple of batches!  Then, there’s waiting for the famous “pop” of the lids as they seal.  (You, know, the little bump on top of the lid flattens out and makes that sound….)  The kids thought this was good entertainment.  Yeh, we have weird kids.

My son summed up the process this way: “First there are pimples.  Then there are dimples!”  Yup.  And smiles all around.

No stack of graded papers at the end of the day, but we did manage to can 18 quarts for each family of delicious applesauce, which, if we’re careful, will last about four months.  That doesn’t seem like enough, but as with my other locavore attempts this year, it’ll have to do for now.  After all, I can’t keep my students waiting forever!

P.S.  The applesauce came out a bright pink color due to the use of Empire apples, which sport a lovely, dark red skin.  See here what’s left of the partially-filled jar that we didn’t can and instead ate for dinner last night.  The photo doesn’t do justice to the lovely color, but you get the idea of how different this is from your typical anemic sludge…


5 Responses

  1. That sounds like an awesome time. I bet the applesauce tasted great. Yum!

  2. I used to do all pretty manually up until last year when I splurged and bought a kitchen aide. Man, does that thing save time! It’s got some awesome attachments that do most of the work. What used to take a couple of days now takes just a few hours.

    And, my husband is spoiled and won’t eat anything but homemade applesauce and has to have it with nearly every meal!

    P.S. They say cooking the skins with the sauce makes it healthier because that’s where most of the vitamins are anyway. 🙂

  3. How wonderful! What a fascinating process. I love the pimples/dimples quote!
    We only really eat apple sauce with roast pork here in the UK, apples tend to get eaten cooked in pies, crumbles and the like for dessert but are not often eaten with savoury food. I’d love to hear how you use 18 quarts of apple sauce up!

  4. I haven’t tried homemade applesauce yet, although I understand it’s not supposed to be too hard. I just could not get my family to eat it if it came out pink, so thanks for the tip.

    I hope all is well with you. I’m not used to checking in with you and there being such a break in your writing. You even blog on vacation for goodness sake, and from the jungles of Peru! I hope you’re ok. I have an award waiting for you over on my blog. Hopefully it will lead some new readers to you who will enjoy you as much as I do.
    God Bless

  5. strugglingwriter: yes, we’ve broken down and already opened two jars. Too yummy!

    Temmy: I’m jealous — wish I had a kitchen aide!

    Diane: My son loves to take applesauce to school in a reusable container for lunch. I’ve picked up the habit. It’s a nice accompaniment to a sandwich in a box lunch because it’s wet but not a lot of calories.

    ladybeams: Oh, thanks for the award! Sorry I’ve been absent. As my new post shows, I’ve been drowning in grading! On applesauce being pink…could you do a blind taste test? I’ll bet they’d LOVE the pink kind , all that flavor!

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