a bushel and a peck


One of the pick-your-own farms we frequent announced that they’d be open this weekend for apple-picking. Typically the picking season wraps up at the end of October, but this year (in spite of the freakishly early snowstorms) the hard frosts have been taking their time. The result is an extended apple season.

I knew I’d be tired after my travel day yesterday, but the weather was gorgeous today and I thought a day out in the fresh air would be good for all of us. Phoebe, however, really didn’t want to go. She had in mind to spend the day at home doing art projects. I think it’s great that Phoebe can get so involved in doing art projects, and I don’t want to discourage her. But I really, really wanted to go pick apples! It was a last, totally unanticipated, opportunity.

John was pretty worn out from his week of single-parenting, so he was happy to stay home with Phoebe. However, Theo did want to go, so off the two of us went.

It was a ridiculously beautiful afternoon. It was sunny with temps in the low 60s. Not even a hint of chill in the air. We got to the farm around 3 in the afternoon, and the light was turning golden.

While many of the trees had long ago finished dropping apples, there were several varieties that were still going strong. Among them, Empire apples, which is possibly my favorite variety. They are tart and crisp when freshly picked, make a very smooth buttery-textured apple sauce, yet keep firm enough when cooked to work in apple crisp. Empires are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious, neither of which I actually particularly like. I find that McIntoshes get pretty mealy, and unless very freshly picked, I don’t like them for anything beyond making apple sauce. (They also tend to get too mushy when cooked for apple crisp.) And Red Delicious? What can I say. Possibly my least favorite apple variety. Ubiquitous in school cafeterias and sorry hotel buffets, they are often mealy and sickly sweet without a hint of tartness, and with a bitterness to the skin that makes me gag. They are useless for cooking because they are too firm, plus they don’t taste good. It is a complete mystery to me how these two lackluster parents could have produced such outstanding offspring.

Wow, who knew I had so much to say about an apple variety?

In any case, it was remarkable how many apples were left on many of the trees. (In fact, I remarked on it frequently. I must have said “Wow, I can’t believe how many apples are left on the trees!” about 30 times.) Theo and I had a great time wandering and easily filled up our 2 half-bushel bags. (Actually, Theo picked maybe 5 apples. But he also didn’t interfere with my picking progress, so that’s productive in my book.) Then we headed to the playground for some sunset playtime.

And now I have a bushel of apples. I think my work may be cut out for me.

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7 responses to “a bushel and a peck

  1. Wow! Gorgeous photos! And how lucky that your favorite apples were still in season and ready to be picked!

    Hey, those are some big bales of hay.

    I enjoyed your pontificating on apple varieties. I bought lots of apples at the farmers’ market yesterday, but that’s not quite as fun as picking them oneself. I got Cameos for eating–my personal favorite variety, and Mutsu for pies as suggested by the guy selling the approximately 8 varieties of apples. Cameos are sweet and crunchy and juicy–the texture is similar to a Fuji, but with more apple-y flavor (I find Fujis a little bland). I hope the Mutsu pies turn out well. One pie might end up including pears and strawberries as well (I shouldn’t gloat, but here in California we still have strawberries at the farmers’ market). Is there any reason why nobody makes “pear pie”?

  2. Interesting article in this weeks New Yorker about apples and apple breeding. I like a nice esopus spitzenberg myself. :)

  3. I’ve never picked apples. I’ve picked plenty of strawberries and raspberries– and even some corn. But no apples.

    I’ve never seen Empire apples but think that they sound perfect. What a good combo. Good luck with all your apple recipes. I bet that they’ll be delish.

  4. We missed apple picking this year, which meant I didn’t spend the fall baking pie after pie after pie after pie. I tend to do a mix of apple varieties in my pies, so that the filling has some apple slices that stay firm, and others that soften up more. I like the range of textures.

    Love that pic with Theo with a great big smile on his face. You can tell he’s having fun.

  5. I am insanely jealous, as our apple crop here was affected by a bad winter–3-5% of the usual yield!

  6. Beautiful photos and I can taste the apples. When I was small, we had apple trees, about six of them, I think. Every fall we had fresh apples…

  7. Pingback: orange among the apples | collecting tokens

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