Monday, August 5, 2013

And Then We Made Applesauce...

We had another great harvest with Village Harvest last weekend. If you remember from my post about apricots, Village Harvest is a nonprofit that harvests food that would otherwise go to waste, and donates it to community food banks and shelters.

Sunday morning, a group of about a dozen volunteers picked Gravenstein apples at the Phleger Estate (part of the Golden Gate Parks system). According to our great liaison with the park system, these Gravenstein apple trees were planted in the 1930's. There were only six Gravenstein trees, but old trees are huge and produce lots of fruit. Five of us worked on the biggest tree for nearly the entire 3 hour picking time. And all told, 975 pounds of Gravenstein apples were donated to a local food bank. Wow!

 these buckets just hold the "volunteer fruit" rejects - we were so busy loading the good fruit into the van that we missed the chance to take a picture of what 975lbs looks like

The rest of the orchard is full of other apple varieties, most of which will ripen in the fall. I can't wait to go back to this beautiful park later this year.

Gravenstein apples are one of those varieties you never really see in stores. They bruise incredibly easily, so make shipping difficult. They also mature mid to late summer, rather than during the fall harvest. They are a good apple for baking and making applesauce.

Because of how easily the Gravensteins bruise, there were a lot of "volunteer fruit." That means anything that might still be useful, but is unsuitable to send to the food bank. We were sent home with 32 pounds of apples -- and just like those apricots from last month, they all had to be processed immediately. What better way to preserve imperfect apples than by making applesauce?

 32 pounds of apples

First we had to wash all these apples, many of which had fallen on the ground at the orchard (which is open to redwoods and home to deer and other wildlife). Best way to wash pound after pound of apple? Fill the sink with water and a little white vinegar, dump them in and start scrubbing!

It took the rest of the day for Sean and me to peel, chop, and process all of the apples into applesauce and spiced apple preserves. We ended up with 11 pints of applesauce, 12 half-pints of spiced apple preserves, and a few tiny cans of applesauce that are perfect for lunches. Not pictured below are some more tupperware containers full of applesauce that went straight into the fridge -- we actually ran out of empty canning jars on this one!

In addition to applesauce and preserves, Sean decided to make an apple pie. He used Martha Stewart's recipe, and it was delicious! He sure does spoil me with his new found baking obsession!

We were so eager to eat the pie that we forgot to take a picture of it after baking. Trust me, it was delicious!

What are your favorite ways to cook with apples? Please share any great ideas, as we head into the fall apple season!


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