Tuesday, 27 August 2013
Around here, late August means the beginning of the fog. Nearly every morning starts with a thick blanket of fuzzy white greeting us as we open blinds and eyes to the new day. Sometimes, it's so thick, we can't even see the driveway.
We had another lovely rain through the night which gave the garden a nice long drink to push through the last of the growing season. My barrels are nice and full now, which means that I can water the greenhouse over the next few weeks of tomato ripening. Our local wheat farmers probably aren't too pleased with rain this close to harvest time ~ they are counting on hot dry weather to ripen their crops.
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Look at this luscious bounty!
The apples are in FINE form this year! Yesterday, I processed a laundry basket full of them and there's another basket waiting (just picked last night). I cook them down whole in my pressure cooker (skins, stems and all), which takes just a few minutes (really!). Here's what results from that:
After cooling just a bit, I run it through the grinder attachment on my (sideways turned) Bosch mixer with the "berry press" attachment added. The berry press is essentially a food mill - it separates out the seeds and skins from things like tomatoes, apples and berries. I know that all sounds very high tech, but I don't regret those purchases ONE bit. It means that I can quickly process large quantities of homegrown produce and get back out into the garden (which is worth a lot to me at harvest time). Prepping apples takes a good amount of time even with a hand crank crank peeler/corer. This method is WAY faster, plus, I like the extra nutrition and colour from the skins when they are cooked down with the flesh.
The bowl (back left in picture below) is full of cooked down apples which I ladle into the hopper. I use the "pusher" to guide the apples down the chute. The grinder does all the work, auguring the apples toward the berry press (the grey plastic shroud is covering the business end of it) where the separating/pureeing takes place. The oval glass dish under the berry press collects the pureed apple flesh and the yellow and white dish collects the skins, stems and cores. The black screw handle on the end allows me to adjust the outlet so that I can get the right amount of juice/pulp extraction from the "apple waste". None of it goes to waste, though ~ it gets fed to the chickens who gobble it up tout suite!
After all the separating is done (mere minutes), the sauce is poured all together into a large pot where I sweeten and season it to taste. I added cinnamon, cloves, local honey and some nutmeg, but every batch is different depending on the variety of apples, the growing conditions, and the sweetness of the apple itself.
I water bath canned this batch and am not sure why I ended up with separation... Anyone know? It tastes divine, and will be lovely on winter oatmeal, over vanilla ice cream and in our favourite applesauce muffins ( I halve the sugar, though and use freshly ground whole wheat flour in lieu of white).
Another comforting sight alongside the applesauce is seeing these juicy tomatoes ripening on the windowsill. Their presence confirms that all is right in my late August world ~ aren't they gorgeous?
Let us not forget the other late August ritual of seeing school supplies spread on nearly every horizontal surface. Labelling and organizing is taking place in anticipation of next week. Let the learning begin!