This was really one of our first free weekends since July so we went to an apple orchard. We were going to go to a Paw Paw festival, but eh, it was an hour and a half farther away.
We saw they had boxes of “seconds” or “canning” apples for $5 a half bushel. So, we bought four. Then we walked around the orchard for a few hours, not picking any, because our trunk was already full.
Are we crazy? What if I told you we’d already bought a half bushel of apples at the farmers market that morning? What if you have no idea what a half bushel is? I can tell you – it is a bit smaller than a printer paper box. A bushel is about 50 lbs. SO we now had 125 pounds of apples. Is this possible? Maybe we had less.
OK, so, my favorite tool EVER is the apple-corer-slicer that we got at the Goodwill for $5 this summer in anticipation of Apple-Time. Here is a HOT VIDEO of one. Let me tell you, I am much faster at using those things than that person in the video.
Matt wanted to make apple cider, and we were told we’d get about a gallon and a half from a each half bushel/25 lbs. AND that the sooner you juice them, the more juice you get. So, we got cranking away on the apples for that. We cored them, then juiced them with the skins on. We made 5 gallons of cider, and used champagne yeast to ferment it. We’ll let you know in about a month if it works! Matt was really the hero on that one.
I also made 3.5 quarts of Apple Butter. I made that much because that is the size of my slow cooker. HINT: Making Apple Butter on a slow cooker is way more easy than doing it over a fire in a giant cast iron cauldron like some people still do in Appalachia. Incidentally, the apple that dries up on the side of the slow cooker as the water evaporates down makes the most delicious fruit leather. I would like to make fruit leather on purpose sometimes, as it is AWESOME!
AND we canned up a gallon of apple sauce. Making apple sauce and apple butter makes me feel like the worlds best cook, even though all I did was slice the apples and put them in a pot. You know how sometimes you are canning and nibbling on whatever it is all day and by the end of the day, the idea of eating any of the food you just labored to preserve just turns your stomach? Well, that never happens to me with apple sauce or apple butter.
And we used apples in the peaches we canned to reduce the amount of sugar we had to put in the peach and nectarine jams we were making. Apples are full of pectin so you can use them as a more natural and local way to sugar up your, well, everything.
But that’s another story!