Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apples, Apples Everywhere!

Last weekend, we took the children to Oak Glen to pick apples. Oak Glen is a funky, foothill community, known for their apples, just east of San Bernardino. After checking out our options on the Internet, we decided to head to the Original Riley's Apple Farm and what an excellent choice that proved to be! As we approached the farm, there was thick traffic and cars parked along each side of the road. We elected to pay for the $5 parking, which was well worth it, and parked our car under a canopy of beautiful cottonwood trees, all tinged yellow, at the edge of the Winesap orchard. As we hopped out of the car I literally misted up at the sight of a quintessential autumn scene; changing leaves, apple trees and a babbling brook. It really couldn't have been more picturesque.

The children had a ball picking ripe Rome apples from the upper orchard and then huge, red Winesaps from the lower one. They had never been apple picking, come to think of it, neither had we...After an hour or so of labor, we paid for our haul and loaded it into the ice chest in the back of our car. Then we had fun exploring the rest of the farm which has cider pressing, tomahawk throwing, knife throwing, archery and corn husk doll making.

When the children had had enough, we headed out to Snowline Orchard for some cider doughnuts. I am obsessed with hot, fresh doughnuts tossed in cinnamon and sugar. The last time I had one was when we were in Chatham for First Night celebrations 2 years ago. And Sunday was to be my day. I was literally salivating at the thought.

As we passed other apple orchards on our way, I realized that Riley's was relatively calm in comparison and when we arrived at Snowline, I knew there would be trouble....there were people and cars everywhere. The line for doughnuts wrapped around the building and didn't seem to be moving. The "new" doughnut machine inside which was supposed to cut down on the lines, looked to me like a doughnut version of the Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven-kid sized. My doughnut dreams were shattered. I guess I will just have to make them myself.

In the meantime, I managed to make applesauce today and put up 6 jars worth this afternoon with our beautiful Rome and Winesap apples. Maybe tomorrow I'll make cider doughnuts.

Three-Apple Applesauce

The combination of three varieties of apples gives this applesauce sweet-tart flavor and great texture. Makes six to seven 1-pint jars
Recipe adapted from one by Jill Silverman Hough


2 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or organic bottled lemon juice
3 pounds Winesap apples or other sweet-crisp apples
3 pounds Granny Smith apples or other tart apples
3 pounds Rome Beauty apples or other soft-textured apples
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice


Combine 2 cups water and lemon juice in 10- to 12-quart stockpot. Peel, core, and cut apples into 3/4-inch pieces; mix pieces into lemon water as soon as apples are cut, to prevent browning. Add sugar, coarse salt, cinnamon, and allspice; stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until apples are soft and almost translucent, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Using potato masher, mash apples to chunky consistency.

Ladle applesauce into hot clean 1-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch space at top of jars. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar threads, lids and rims with a paper towel soaked in vodka, brandy or other hard liquor. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 20 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

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