Sunday, October 14, 2007

Apples, Apples Everywhere

Oh, it’s the apple-time-of-year up here in the Smallish State. I love apples. I especially love apple trees.

The week before last I bought a bunch of apples and made an apple pie to bring over to 518’s for dinner. 518 have two apple trees in their yard (an enormous ancient one and a tiny new one.) Their dog, H, has developed a voracious apple addiction, eating as many as a half-dozen a day. Reportedly he has learned how to wake them up in the middle of the night, indicating a desperate need to go out and pee—but when let outside, he just grabs an apple and comes back in.

I had apples leftover from the pie, so munched those for a few days. After 9 died last weekend, my kind neighbors left a jug of cider and a bag of freshly picked apples in the fridge, along with a note. I didn’t find them for a day or two (wasn’t really eating for a bit, after 9, so I hadn’t opened the fridge) but then I started in on that bag of apples, too. So good!

Yesterday, back at 518’s, we did a few chores then stood around in the yard surrounded by surplus apples and munched away. I took a few more home. Then later in the afternoon 26 and I went apple-picking down near Other Smallish City. 26 loves apple picking, but sadly has developed a terrible stomach reaction to apples and can no longer eat them. The Matsu apples from that orchard were so outrageously delicious, though, that I could hardly bear to eat them in front of her. I tried to coax her into just one bite. "Couldn’t you just taste it, and spit it out? That wouldn't hurt, right?" "No, too risky", she said. A sort of reverse Adam and Eve apple scene.

Speaking of evil: back in my childhood, before the evil-doers started pasteurizing cider and doping it up with sodium benzoate “for my safety”, you could (and I always did) leave a jug of it on the kitchen counter for a few days, until it started to ferment. You could tell it was ready when the container started to bulge. Fizzy, sweet, and probably ever-so-slightly alcoholic, this ambrosia has no equal among beverages. But these days it’s hard to find anything but the tasteless, sterile, tampered-with stuff that won’t ferment. I bought a jug at the orchard without preservatives, but it was treated with UV light and touts itself as “ultra pure”—I’m leaving it on the counter, but I imagine it will stay inert. (I am intrigued by a post over at Life In The Slow Lane, in which the author describes adding salt and whey to her cider—what does this do, I wonder? Mysterious alchemy!)

At the orchard we picked mostly from ten-year-old trees, which all looked about the same. But we also went up the hill to visit a grove of ancient, gnarled trees, each of which had grown into a true individual of astounding beauty and strength. The branches of these trees felt solid as granite. They were curled and crusted with age, speckled with lichens and moss. They might have been a hundred years old. They were still dropping shiny, sweet, bright-red apples.

At the farmhouse, the proprietors were also selling wooden crates of old apple tree firewood. I turned some of the heavy, twisted pieces in my hands, and imagined the hot, bright, and oh-so-fragrant fire they would make. There is nothing like an apple-wood fire. I longed for a home with a woodstove again.

Back home tonight, I was supposed to go to bed. But looking at five varieties of apples which have now accumulated in the fridge, I could smell apple crisp in my mind—and once that happened, it had to be cooked up. Plus, it gave excuse to use the apple peeler/corer gizmo—by far the best kitchen gadget ever invented.


Anonymous kat said...

Apple pie is the best! Do you make your own pastry?

ps(the gizmo looks like a Medieval torture device. Reminds me of one of my dad's potato peeler gadgets.)

10/15/07, 3:54 AM  
Anonymous valerie said...

I love those peeler/corer thingies! I "borrowed" my mom's last year and now just can't give it up.

This is the first time I've ever tried to lacto-ferment cider. The salt and whey are (as I understand it) there to prevent nasty stuff from colonizing, while the whey gets the lactobacilli multiplying. I really didn't want to put salt in that beautiful cider, so I hope the result is worth doing that... :-)

10/17/07, 8:37 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

UPDATE: The "ultra pure" UV-irradiated non-pasteurized non-sodium-benzoated cider DID turn sparkly on the kitchen counter! Now it is chilled in the fridge and so delicious...

10/17/07, 8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can attach an electric drill to one of those peelers if you take off the handle.

3/11/08, 4:00 PM  

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