"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bad Year For Apples

Every fall since we moved up here, I've put out an ad looking for apples to make cider. I inherited a lovely old motorized, double barreled apple press and a giant thirst for cider, but we don't have apple trees here. Of course, we planted some the very first spring, and we planted more the next year (Expanding Orchard) but between the goats, the poor soil, and carelessness with the riding lawnmower, we haven't had a great survival rate. The trees that are still alive are still a few years away from any kind of decent crop.

In years past, I always enjoyed an enthusiastic response to my ads. The deal was: you bring your apples, we share the work of pressing, and each keep half the cider. Homebrewers can have all the cider in return for a quarter of the finished product back. Everyone seemed happy with this deal, and the response was such that I spent most weekends in September and October utterly exhausted (Apples Kicked my Ass).

This year, I got zero response to my Craigslist posting. None. Zilch. I reposted, but no response. I think it has just been a bad year for apples. After my ad got no results, I started asking around, people at church and school, if anyone had extra apples. Everyone told me they had a poor harvest, or even a non-existent harvest this year. My own observations bore this out - usually this time of year, as you drive around the countryside, you see dozens of loaded apple trees. Every old homestead had an orchard, and every third city lot has a tree or two. Normally the apples are falling all over the place about now. But no; all I see are a bunch of bare trees.

It's funny, because we had a great crop of pears this year. It was a long, cold, late spring. I was worried about the pear tree, because during the blossom time I thought it was still too cold and wet for bees. Then it was a short, cool summer. Our pears did fine, but apparently many apple trees did not.

For the first time, I had to buy apples! Now, I can't buy enough apples to press for cider. I can't afford to. Maybe later in the year, as the season is ending, the commercial growers will be happy to sell their U-pick apples at a price that will make cider economical, but for now, it's just not. Still, I can't possible just let apple season go by without any fresh new crop apples to munch on! I bought a 40 pound crate of Jonagolds from a homesteader out in Lynden. They are delicious, but 40 pounds is a lot of apples to eat fresh. I still have a bunch of canned pear sauce, so I didn't feel like making applesauce.

I made several apple-cakes. My particular made-up recipe is an apple-ginger-walnut cake. Furthermore it is made - these days - with homemade goat-yogurt and topped with cajeta. Wish I'd taken a picture, but I didn't. Since I made four of them, we will eat one and wrap three for the freezer. Cake freezes beautifully. Just thaw it on the counter and warm in a slow oven to serve.


The Idiot Gardener said...

It's odd, because I don't have apple trees, but one of my neighbours does. Last year they just let all the apples fall, so I asked if I could have them this year.

Although on the other side of the pond, we too had a long cold spring. I've just nipped out to look at their trees, and there's hardly any fruit on them!

Nekkid Chicken said...

I am hoping to put in a few more trees here. Was told apples and grapes won't do well here but, funny. My muscadine sure took hold so, maybe apples will too. Wish you more luck!

:O) Mal