We drove up to Vermont yesterday and picked five bushels of apples, then drove home. I'm glad we didn’t put it off any longer as the trees were nearly picked clean. I was especially happy for a tall husband as there was plenty of reaching to pick the remaining fruit and there was only one of those long-handled apple picker thingamajigs available. I was able to use that handy tool while Adam spent close to two hours on his toes with arms extended, making him taller by three feet. The man got his yoga in yesterday, that's for sure.
Crazy as it seems to drive all those miles and burn all that gas, I can now feed my family applesauce and pie all year long knowing the fruit was not covered in chemicals. Helping the trip seem less impractical, Emily’s workplace is located halfway between home and the Vermont border, with yesterday being a workday - Adam and I just kept driving for one hour after we dropped her off.
Today I’ll start processing our haul by making applesauce using Macs. I normally use Cortland for everything (sauce and pie filling), but the slim pickings had us filling three bushels with Macs for sauce and two bushels with Cortland for pie filling.
I’ve written before about making pie filling - I don’t can it, instead it gets frozen. So much fresher and easier that way. Basically, you mix up your favorite pie filling with sliced or diced apples, seasoning, sweetener, etc., then transfer the mixture to a gallon size freezer bag or you could use glass canning jars and freeze (I tend to run out of freezer space if I put everything in glass jars). If using freezer bags, lay the filled bags flat to freeze, then you can stack them and it’s a great space saver. When you’re ready to make a pie, take a bag out of the freezer about 30-45 minutes before you’re going to place it in your crust. It doesn’t need to thaw completely, just half way so it breaks up a little. Fill the pie, bake as usual, maybe adding an extra 5-10 minutes of cooking time.
Of course whole pies can be frozen, and I do like to have 2-3 whole pies in the freezer for last minute get togethers, but I try to have at least a dozen pie fillings waiting in the freezer for the year and I don’t have that many pie plates. There's also something nice about whipping up a fresh crust.
We couldn’t help but notice the emerging foliage along the southern Vermont hills, which of course had us thinking a trip to the kingdom next weekend is in order, they must be seeing close to peak colors at this point. So, we’ll pack Emily and Scout into the car and head north to play tourist in Adam's hometown. Maybe I'll bake an apple pie to take along for the ride.