Garden On, Vashon

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An Apple Abundancy: Part 1

November 6th, 2012 at Tue, 6th, 2012 at 8:28 pm by Karen Dale


The state’s having the second-largest harvest of apples in its history, and it certainly feels like Vashon’s having a bumper crop.

My favorite trees have been groaning with fruit, and the ground has been carpeted with their windfalls for weeks.

Folks have been calling the Food Bank, looking for pickers, receivers, eaters, anyone to PLEASE come and take their apples! Apples are everywhere—in the frig, floor, and on the shelves, coming off the truck from Northwest Harvest, left out in the donation shed because (though officially they’ll never say No to food donations) the Food Bank now has WAY more apples than the clientele will take. 

Don’t take any more apples to the Food Bank, folks. Let’s look at what YOU can do with all this Apple Abundancy.

ID Your Mystery Apples at the Annual Fruit Show

First, if you’re curious to find out what variety of apples your long-anonymous tree has been producing, you can bring a few samples to the Fruit Club’s “Annual Fruit Show” this Saturday, November 10, from 10-3. Expert apple growers will be at the Senior Center on Bank Road to help identify your mystery apples (side-by-side with displays of Island-grown fruit), while a series of lectures on fruit-growing will be held next door at the Land Trust building—

10:00  Growing Plums and Nectarines on Vashon  — Jerry Gehrke
11:00  Update on the Cherry’s Cider Orchard  — Wes & Laura Cherry of Dragon’s Head Cider
1:00    Fruit Varieties – Old & New – Suitable for Growing on Vashon — Bob Norton
2:00    Growing Fruits & Nuts in the Landscape Utilizing Permaculture Principles —Ingela Wanerstrand 

Make Applesauce (and pie filling)

Homemade applesauce is so easy and so much better than store-bought. Here’s what I do. First I fill up a grocery sack of apples (windfalls are fine). Then at home when I have about 90 spare minutes, I fill my largest stewpot with an inch of water and a big splash of lemon juice. Then I start peeling, coring, removing the wormholes and bruises, and slicing the apple flesh into the pot WITHOUT turning on the heat, stirring often to allow the lemon juice to keep the flesh from browning much.

When the spot is about 2/3rds full of apple chunks-n-slices, I turn the heat on to high, add about half-cup of sugar, and keep adding and stirring apple slices while the water heats up and starts cooking the apples. (At the point when some of the apples have become sauce and are coating the remaining apple slices, I might decide to turn this batch into pie filling. A quart ziploc or seal-a-meal bag holds 4-5 cups of filling for one 9″ pie, defrostable in a day and with the usual sugar/cinnamon/thickener added before baking.)

If what I want is applesauce, at this point I’ll turn the heat down to medium-low and let the mass of apple cook down. It doesn’t take long: 20-30 minutes. If you hear the mass go plop, turn the heat down lower: you want little hissing geysers, not big plops. When your apple slices have largely melted together, taste for sweetness and add more sugar/splenda … add a sprinkling of cinnamon if you like … and if the taste is a little bland, add more lemon juice, a little splash at a time, until the flavor perks up. When it’s wonderful, remove from heat, cool a little, then spoon into plastic pints, old butter tubs, or seal-a-meal bags for freezing. If you prefer pantry storage, spoon into glass mason jars and hot-process in boiling water for 15 minutes.

Or make Cider—

That’s coming up with my coverage of the apple pressing at Vashon Winery and (hopefully soon) at Dragon’s Head Cider. Ron Irvine tells me you need as little as five gallons of juice to make cider. One pointer right up front: make cider, an entirely cold process, from tree-picked fruit, NOT from windfalls. Fruit on the ground can harbor e-coli from browsing animals, have spores of a toxin called patulin, and may have picked up the bacteria acetobactor that turns cider into vinegar. So take your windfalls and COOK them.



gardens on the south end of Vashon Island, on a sandy hilltop overlooking Quartermaster Harbor. "Garden On, Vashon" shares what the Island has to teach us about gardening HERE—from making soils to sowing seeds to raising plants to harvest, cooking, preserving, and designing new ways to cultivate your little chunk of Vashon Island. To contact me, email, or leave a comment.

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