Friday, October 29, 2010

"Apple Picting"

Oct 2010
Seven Ponds Orchard Sept 2009, Me, MomE, and Ceci

This weekend we finally made it out East for Apple Picking, something I really enjoy and we started as a family tradition last year.  A few years ago I went on my first apple picking trip upstate with some friends and loved it!  It took me three years in between to get back out in the orchards.  Last year Ceci was 13 months old and my mom was visiting us and we decided it would be a great experience to share, going apple picking.  Tim and I did a lot of research to find an orchard that wasn't to far from our home and didn't require us to pay another $100 in gas in tolls to get to.  We found Seven Ponds Orchard, in Water Mill NY.  They offered a long list of different apple varieties, and seemed very family friendly.
It's more fun to pull the wagons, when you are little.
We drove out last year and were hooked, it was an easy drive, and simple to find, with the help of GPS (we would get lost in our driveway without it).  They offer radio fliers to haul kids and apples through the orchard, which didn't seem important at first, but I truly appreciated the wagon by the end of the trip.  The trees are all dwarf trees, making it easy for the kids to participate in the apple picking, I mean how many places can say that a 13 month old was able to reach and pick apples off the tree by herself?  We had such a great time and the wagon made the picking so easy that I ended up with nearly 60 pounds of apples last year!  That's right 60 pounds!  And I used all of it!  We picked Mutsu (one of my favorites), Honey crisp (my new favorite), and a few Red Delicious (not for me, don't prefer them at all.)
Enjoying an apple she picked herself (Sept 2009)
This year, my mom came to visit around the same time of year and we made a plan to go out to Seven Ponds again, sadly it poured down rain the day we planned to go.  It took us almost three more weeks to get out to the orchard for a lot of different reasons, but it was worth the wait because we were able to go with our family friends and had a fantastic day!  I came down with Laryngitis, but refused to give up our trip, I was also terribly afraid that there wouldn't be any apples left in 2 weeks.
At it again!  (Oct 2010)
We arrived at the orchard mid morning and after a pit stop for the two potty training kiddos got right to work.  The kids were super cute trying to haul the wagons through the orchard themselves.  It was a great time, even though I couldn't talk above a whisper.  I was happy to find all my favorite apples again and of course we have to taste test in the orchard, which is not allowed, oops!  Maybe next year we will have them weigh Ceci on the way in and on the way out and pay for the mass amount of apples she seems inspired to eat while we are there.  I also found a new delicious apple, Cameo, crispy, sweet, with a hint of tart, very nice for eating.  Tim tells me that at one point he turned around and the kids were holding hands walking down the aisle of the orchard together, does life get any sweeter?

I think we came out with about 25 pounds of apples this year, I managed some self control some how.  Now you ask what do I do with 25, or 60 pounds of apples?  Last year Tim bought me a peeler, corer slicer thing that suctions down to my stone counter and I ripped through the whole batch.  I put about 6-8  apples each in a gallon zip top freezer bag, labeled them and toss them in the freezer.  This year went really well, and I even got help from my favorite sous chef.  I do like to put one slice through the stack of apple so that the rings will separate from one another when I try to cook them.
My sweet little helper!
Sadly when you defrost them they release a lot of their juice making them inappropriate for some cooking applications.  I have used them with all the juice for pies, you just need to add in some cornstarch to thicken the juice into a nice syrup while baking, same goes for my Apple Brown Betty.  We made a lot of apple sauce last year as well, one of Ceci's favorite first foods, as well as a key ingredient in my favorite, Gluten Free Applesauce cake.

Be sure to keep an eye out as these recipes will be working their way into this blog over the next few months, as I make them and can snap some pictures of my offerings.  And if anyone has a Gluten Free recipe for Apple Strudel, please send it to me.  I'm inspired, but nervous to try it.