This weekend we traveled to C-ville to pick apples at Carter Mountain Orchard with the whole family. Our daughter and our darling dingo, Scarlett, joined us for the journey, and we met our son and his wife (the rock stars) and her parents at the orchard. The weather was more like August than October, but the breeze atop the mountain helped and the sunshine put smiles on our faces.
We grabbed our bags and headed toward the trees... now, which to pick? Gala? Fuji? York? Jonagold? Yes, that one!
There were ripe, juicy apples everywhere! The best, however, were higher up in the trees, and required a bit of climbing. Soon we had close to 60 pounds in our bags and decided to relax and visit a bit before heading off to lunch.
Carter Mountain is quite the destination for apple picking, cider doughnuts, and various other treats. I found some education displays and pumpkins galore.
After lunch and hugs goodbye, the Beach crowd ventured 20 minutes south of Charlottesville for a stop at Vintage Virginia Apples / Albemarle Ciderworks. This was the place!
Glorious varieties of pre-picked apples; we chose close to 10 pounds each of Idared and Gold Rush. Each variety had slices to sample, making the decision easy and tasty.
And then there was the cider tasting. Less fussy than wine tasting, this was pure delight. The cider bubbles tickled our tongues while we enjoyed the musical musings of a local musician, Fiona Balestrieri. The three of us enjoyed the warm sun and cool breezes while Scarlett was lulled to sleep by Fiona's voice. I could have stayed in that moment for so much longer...
...but we had to get home and process all those apples! The drive back across the bridge to home was spectacular.
Yesterday I worked on applesauce. Pure, unadulterated apples, cooked down and run through the largest blade of the food mill, then canned in beautiful blue Ball jars for the pantry. Make your own applesauce. Your tummy will thank you.
Homecanned ApplesauceYield: about 15 pints
8 pounds large apples, washed, cored, cut into wedges, and dipped into lemon juice to prevent browing
(I wash mine in a large bowl of water with a touch of white vinegar
before coring and cutting.)
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup water
(Yes, that's it. No sugar. No spices. Just absolutely perfect and pure apple goodness.)
Add the liquids to a large stainless steel pot (it seems like a small amount, but it's just to prevent the apples from sticking). Add the apples to the pot with the liquids. Put the lid on the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the apples for 20 minutes or so, until apples are tender. (The variety and age of your apples will affect the cooking time.) Remove the pot from the heat and allow the apples to cool a bit.
Working in batches, run the cooked apples through a food mill to remove skins and to puree the apples. (I used the food mill blade with the largest openings because I like a slightly textured applesauce; use a blade with smaller openings if you like a smoother applesauce.) Add the apple puree back to the pot and bring back to a gentle simmer.
Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims (I use a cloth dampened with white vinegar), center lids onto jars, and screw on the bands just fingertip tight. Process the jars of applesauce in a covered boiling water canner for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, turn off the heat, remove the lid, and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and allow to cool completely on a towel-lined rack or board. Check the seal after 24 hours. Remove the bands from sealed jars and store for apple enjoyment over the next year.
A jar didn't seal properly? Oh, what a shame! You'll have to refrigerate that jar and eat it right away! Enjoy!!