It is the peak of apple season right now.
All year long I look forward to this time of year. Right now I am canning applesauce, drying apple slices in a food dehydrator, eating crisp Gravenstein apples…and making a few apple pies. My kitchen is like a small factory!
Our dear neighbors have a Gravenstein apple tree but they don’t use the apples. So, for years, my husband and I, after dinner, have picked up all the fallen ones and hand-picked the ripe ones from a ladder. We put out the fallen ones for the wildlife in our yard–California Blacktail deer, wild Rio Grande turkeys, opossum, raccoons, birds and bees. Even the gophers come up from the dirt below to gnaw on the fallen ones. We eat and cook with the picked ones!
Gravenstein apples are rarely seen in stores because they do not stay crisp and delicious for more than a few days–but they are wonderful apples when they are “just picked.” Right off the tree, they snap when you bite into them and they have a delicate, ethereal flavor unlike any other apple. When they are getting close to ripe, and getting enough sun, they develop bright red streaks–while keeping their “apple green” in the background.
I grew up with a gigantic Gravenstein apple tree in the yard–it was two stories high! My childhood duty during apple season was to go outside every morning with a bucket and pick up all the fallen apples. My mother would quickly trim away the bruises and magically turn them into thick applesauce using a chinois sieve with a heavy wooden pestle. I still use her precious equipment today. She occasionally made wonderful pies with them–and taught me how to also–using just cinnamon–no nutmeg!
And, every year, I make our neighbors Scott and Susan a “thank you” pie from their own apples–just to thank them for sharing their wonderful fruit with us–and for letting me carry on my old ceremonial rituals–including making an apple pie–just like my mother’s ♥
Here is one of the beautiful male deer that comes into the garden for the fallen apples (his antlers are “in velvet”)
© 2011 Ann M. Del Tredici, MS, RD, CDE