Sunday, September 28, 2014

Must. Find. Apples.

This is it, all that is left from last year's applesauce making. I'm actually impressed we have three whole quarts left (one of which I broke into yesterday), because we tend to eat a lot of applesauce, whether plain, baked into recipes, or
used to make our favorite granola.

I planned it well, rationed it out all year, and not ONCE had to buy store applesauce. To me, this is a big deal. Any food that we can become self-reliant on makes me cheer. Beside the cost of the canning jars, this applesauce was also incredibly affordable--as in, free. I'm lucky to have a very kind uncle who has dozens of apple trees on his property. He generously invited me to pick to my heart's content the past couple of years, and boy, did I ever take him up on that offer. He has several varieties, many that he can't even put a name to because they started growing on their own; tiny scrappy seedlings that he didn't have the heart to mow down and that became full-grown, apple bearing beauties. The past two falls I have made more than one apple-picking visit, leaving with buckets-full.

I'm not sure how I missed the memo, or how I stayed so busy this summer and fall that I didn't get a chance to go check on the apples...but I received news last week that made my heart skip a beat.

There are no apples at uncle Loren's this fall. No apples? How does that even happen? My naivete and newness at all things harvesting had placed those rose-hued glasses over my eyes again, that expectation that there will always be a new crop if you are willing and able to wait a whole year for it. I say 'again' because the same thing happened with Edna's plums (Edna is my elderly neighbor with the coveted empty lot). The plum tree in her front yard produced more perfect gorgeous plums than any one person could possibly use, in the years before I cared about picking fruit or foraging. By the time I grew excited about the prospect of free plums, and had gained permission ahead of time for the following year (and started collecting piles of plum-preserving recipes), the plum tree gave up. It has not produced plums for two seasons, now. Its lack of plums has been a source of real disappointment, not only for the lack of delicious organic fruit, but also for breaking the link to bonding with this neighbor who has proven very difficult to socialize with.

Now I face a year without Loren's apples:

  • September 18
  • Andrea Marshall Pommer

    Hi Jeanne. Do you know if uncle Loren is willing to share apples again?
  • September 19
  • Jeanne Marshall

    I'm sure he is. I'm not sure if the apples are ready yet.
  • Andrea Marshall Pommer

    I'll be ready to pick whenever the apples are ready. Can't wait!
  • September 20
  • Jeanne Marshall

    Andrea, I'm sorry. Loren said there aren't any apples this year. The blooms must have frozen in the spring. Why didn't I know that?? I guess you will have to find another source for apples this year.
  • Andrea Marshall Pommer

    *gasp*!! I think I'm going to go into mourning!

Go into mourning I did! I sulked for an entire day thinking about the applesauce, apple butter, and dried apples I would not be making, unless I found apples elsewhere. There are you-pick orchards in my area, but very few (if any?) of them are organic (uncle Loren regards his little orchard with a 'hands-off' attitude, and doesn't spray them, making them absolutely organic). Plus there is the whole 'free' thing. With money being tight, I was giddy about the free source of apples, and a trip to an orchard will mean budgeting out some of our precious grocery money for a food source I've been accustomed to getting for free. Yes, I know...break out the awful for me to have to actually pay for this delicious staple in our home.

Not to worry, I'll get me some apples. I will either find an organic orchard and budget the money for it, or I will head out in my foraging hat. I have had my eyes peeled for spots of red among the trees on my daily trips around town. Yesterday I saw two trees, bursting with red orbs, right next to Lake Avenue. I am certain that no one has been picking apples there; dozens of fruits laid all over the ground and on Lake Avenue itself, being driven on and smashed. The fruits are going to waste, when I could be turning them into something delicious to last the entire year.

I've never actually asked permission to forage before; all my foraging forays have been in public parks or along the edges of roads. I am determined to muster the courage to knock on the door to that house on Lake Avenue (today may just be the day), and ask for some free apples. In exchange for applesauce and apple pie, of course. Will they be able to resist?


  1. Yummy, homemade applesauce! I can never make too much, it seems. Hope you find some apples. I am looking, too... my usual sources didn't have apples this year!

    1. You can sympathize with me, then! I hope we both find apples, Julie. Now that I've started making applesauce, I don't think I can ever go back to store-bought again. There is just no comparison.