Sunday was apple picking day. It was a day that I was very much looking forward to. It was my first time apple picking, so I didn't know exactly what to expect. I went with my sister-in-law, Karey, who also is a canner. We went to the Elegant Farmer, a cute farm in Mukwonago that is great for families (there are hay rides, pony rides, make-your-own caramel apples, corn maze, pumpkins, trolley/train rides). It's a bit on the tourist-y side, but I still enjoyed it. Of course, I don't have any pictures of us picking. Every time I've gone picking this year (strawberries, raspberries, and now apples), I've failed to take pictures. When we got there, we each picked up an empty bushel basket (which holds around 42 pounds of apples...I think I got about 46), and loaded them into a wagon (I'm so glad they had wagons...there would be no way I would have been able to carry my bushel full of apples). The farm had about 10 varieties of apples, and the trees were color coded with ribbons. We were on the lookout for the white ribbons, which were the Cortland apples. They are great all-purpose apples. Because we wanted to do many different things with them (applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly, apple pie filling), we chose the Cortland.
When we came across the first set of trees with white ribbons we just had to laugh. We couldn't reach any of the apples. Oh, and did I mention it was raining? On and off, and not too heavy, but the rain was definitely there. So, then we started jumping to try to reach some apples. Everytime I tried to pull an apple off, I'd also get a face full of water. We also tried climbing some of the trees. I got a few apples that way, but either other people beat me to it, or not many apples grow near the middle of the tree. I could have walked out on the limbs, but they were wet and I didn't want to break my neck.
We walked over a couple of rows and found some more trees with while ribbons. Score! These trees were full of apples. Even apples that I could reach without jumping. Even better? There was a ladder nearby. My sister-in-law climbed the ladder and handed the apples to me. This made the job a lot simpler, plus saved us a lot of time. We would have been there all day if we had to jump to reach the apples.
Check out our trunk full off Cortland apples!
The first thing I wanted to make was some applesauce. I was dying to try out my new food mill. I chopped up 6 pounds of apples. It was awesome to not have to peel them or worry about the cores or seeds. I added a cup and a half of water and boiled them, covered, for about 20 minutes. [On my next batch I think I'm going to use apple cider instead of water. I think it will add a little more flavor to the applesauce.]
Hmmm....I seemed to have forgotten to take a picture of what they looked like after 20 minutes of cooking...
Anyways, I broke out the brand-spanking-new food mill. I put the finest plate on the inside. I didn't want any of the core or seeds slipping through. I set about cranking it.
Then the applesauce started draining out of the bottom! Holy cow! It was so easy! If it got a little clogged up, I just reversed it for a few turns.
All that would stay behind in the top were the seeds, core and skins.
The best part was that there was so little waste. After preparing 6 pounds of apples, this was the total waste I had! I'd estimate it at less than a 1/2 cup!
After running the apples through the food mill, I cleaned out the pot, put the applesauce back in, and added about a cup of sugar and some cinnamon. I didn't exactly measure, I just tasted it until it was perfect. I processed the jars in the waterbath canner for 15 minutes. I ended up with 5 pints worth of applesauce. Cortland apples make the most beautiful pink applesauce (which I learned ahead of time from Under the High Chair).
If you want to take your applesauce a step further and turn it into apple butter, check out this post.
And, these pictures are only semi-related. I just couldn't resist posting them. I tried to take some pictures of my son with the bushel of apples (minus 12 pounds that I had already processed while he was napping). The first 2 were pretty cute. He played along with me.
Then I think he was trying to tell me he had enough. I have no idea why he decided to put his hand down his diaper. He never does that!
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This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday.