Inch by Inch: Autumn Apple harvest

Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in Features

Inch by Inch: Autumn Apple harvest

Those of us fortunate enough to have an orchard at home, or an orchard within a short driving distance, know the joy of apple season. 

Our distant forebears would have made crates in which they would have laid down clean hay, then layered apples and kept them as long as possible in the root cellar, until almost spring, when the apples would be spongy but still tasty enough to chop up in oatmeal or to make cookies.

They would have also pressed cider, and made fresh cider for the kiddies and harder cider for everyone else. 

Slightly more recently, apple farmers would have made sauce and preserved and spiced apple slices for pie to save their crops for the winter months, and farm families would feast on potatoes and apple sauce well into early spring, perhaps with preserved pork, such as ham or bacon.

Our homesteading parents would slice and dry apples, which they would send to school with us as dried fruit or fruit leather.

Everyone would have enjoyed apple everything during the harvest, from cider donuts to apple dumplings to apple cobbler to baked apples to fried apples. 

Maine Apple Saturday was September 9, but most orchards are still open.  Give your favorite local orchard a call to see if they're open; a frost that occurred this spring after an abnormally warm stretch in early March led some apples to flower early, long before the pollinators were out and about. 

Picking your own apples, making sauce, juice or cider, and even laying down some of your crop in the root cellar ... a relatively easy thing to do ... and don't forget to make some special apple goodie while the fresh apples are here. 

Our favorite is apple crisp, which is simply peeled and thinly sliced apples, mixed with butter, cinnamon, a little oats, brown sugar, and nutmeg, baked for about half an hour at 400 degrees or so.

To find an orchard near you, visit http://www.maineapples.org/

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