Hold your tongue…

…and repeat after me,

“Apples!”

For those of you with kids you’re probably already having this kind of fun. It’s autumn and the kids have gone back to school. The rest of us can probably remember some of the sing-song word games from our playground days.

Sally had a steamboat,

the steamboat had a bell,

when Sally went to heaven the steamboat went to

Hell-o operator….

It goes on for a while like that. These are the rhyming games that kids teach each other: Clapping games, hopscotch and jump rope. It was fun and, as far as I was concerned, if you could swear, all the better!

Another sign of autumn is the apple harvest.

It starts in August and goes through to November. Here in Washington it’s the state fruit. Most of the apple production comes from the central part of the state where, according to the Washington Apple Commission,  primarily eight varieties are grown. These are the names most of us are familiar with: Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Jonagold and Cameo. A couple of those I regularly munch on, but I was pleased to read that there are 2500 varieties grown throughout the USA and more than 7500 around the world! Here are just a few that I found. See if you can guess where they’re from:

  1. Akero
  2. Ambrosia
  3. Antonovka
  4. Api Etoile
  5. Ard Cairn

OK. That was just a quick peek at the A’s. Were you able to guess some?

Here are the answers:

  1. Scandinavia
  2.  Canada
  3. Russia
  4. Switzerland
  5. Ireland

I love apples.

Reading the descriptions of these distant trees puts me in a dreamy world of old orchards tended by those who know what prizes await them. I want to smell the leaves, the fragrance of the fruit, the crisp rare air. Some varieties are described as having a pineapple-like flavor or being reminiscent of bananas. One has red flesh while another’s skin goes black in storage! Then we get to the different uses. Do you want to bake them or make sauce? Some are best eaten fresh or they are good for storage. And then there’s cider…

Here in Port Townsend, backyard apples are grown for all of these things, but it’s hard cider that is putting us on the map.

There are three hard-cider makers in and around the town and you can visit them all in one day.

They call it the Olympic Peninsula Cider Route. I haven’t done this yet but, it sounds like you could make a lovely day of it! The route includes Eaglemount Cider, Finn River Farm & Cidery and Alpenfire Cider which produces the states only certified organic cider.

I like mine crisp and dry but, true to the multiple-personality of the apple, each cider has its own character and can be paired similar to wine. It’s wonderful how these cider makers are so skillful at expressing their craft. English and French styles, dry or sweet, dessert and bubbly.

Honestly, this blog is making me thirsty.

Back into the backyard.

Here is where I’m trying to get to. 260If you have made it this far into the blog you’re probably getting the idea that I’m wanting to talk about apples. It’s true!

Here’s a picture of my Jonagold apple tree that was planted in memoriam for my father-in-law who passed 8 years ago. It produced just one apple the first year. We had to share. Then after a few years there were four, so we all got one. This was the first year that I lost count and some were even dropping to the ground. The tree was so loaded with fruit that next year I plan on thinning out the crop. This is mainly done so that the remaining apples will be large and healthy.

This year the apples had damage from codling moths.

The moth larvae bore their way to the core where they fed on the seeds. As you can imagine, I was feeling  too suspicious of the fruit to pick one and take a bite. To eat an apple fresh, I would slice it after carefully cutting away the core.

The other problem with the moths is that they ruin the apples for storage. My first big crop and I was going to have to process it right away. Normally I would just turn apples into sauce, but it was my first boxful from this special tree. I decided to be fancy and make apple butter. A little sweet, subtly spiced and fun to say.

We call it “Bill’s Apples Butter”.

079
Toasted pumpkin bread from Pane d’Amore, my favorite!

It took over four hours to process and cook the apple butter. You have to stir constantly to keep it from scorching.

The whole time I was snapping away with my camera to carefully document the process: my tree heavy with apples, the box full of apples, an apple cut to show the moth damage, apples cooking on the stove, and jars cooling down before going into storage. Well, when I got to this part of the blog where I intended to insert the pictures, they were gone! I had accidently erased them thinking they were already downloaded to my computer. You know, to make blogging easier…

I had to hold off for a couple of days before I could get back to writing. I love the picture part!

“Maybe the pictures were a little much.” I told myself.

I went back through the drawing notebooks of my youngest son, Jeremy and found a drawing that he did of an apple when he was little. He had filled up half of the book with pictures of fruit. They are some of my favorite drawings in the world!

That seemed to help.

So, no pictures of my apples, but I did write the word a lot. I hope that counts for something? If you don’t think so, then pardon me while I hold my tongue.


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