Foraging apples.









Is it apple time already?

This hot, dry summer has had me longing for some crisp fall days. And while autumn is still a ways off, the apples have begun to ripen.

Like so many crops they are early this year.

Last week we slipped away for six days at my parent's cabin on the Wolf River. (You probably didn't miss me because I posted while we were away. Hooray for technology and the "select publication date" feature on Typepad.)

During our vacation Lupine and I visited a wild apple "orchard" that we pick at every year. We went twice, and on the first foraging day we had a conversation I want to remember always. It went like this:

Lupine: "Mama, this is the best day of my entire life."

Me: "Oh, Lupine. I'm so glad. Thank you for being my foraging buddy."

Lupine (as she threw her arms around my waist): "Thank you for being my foraging buddy, Mama!"

At which point my heart melted into a big puddle of love.

Sigh. Sweetness overload.

A few of our favorite trees were ripe already, including this one that Lupine has nicknamed "Cake" because, well, "it tastes like cake."

I've been picking this particular tree for more than 20 years. (Though I've always simply referred to it as "my favorite apple tree" rather than "Cake", though her name has grown on me and now I call it "Cake" too.)

My grandpa and I used to pull his old pick up tree underneath and fill the bed with apples for baiting deer, and yes, apples for saucing and eating.

I always made sure the deer didn't get any good ones from this tree.

This old tree is nearing the end. It's split and rotting out on the inside. It's much smaller than it use to be, as one whole section had dropped off in the past five years. I'm planning on grafting a branch onto a younger tree so we can continue to enjoy Cake Apples for many more years. I think I'd better hurry or I'll lose my opportunity. 

In all, Lupine and I picked one large cooler-full. It's in the kitchen now, brimming with the ugly-yet-delicious apples. Today we'll juice (for our first experiments in hard cider making) but mostly we'll sauce.

And I can hardly wait.

(My instructions for making and canning apple sauce are here.)