Stacking Functions Garden

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Tree removal

We had four trees removed from our backyard today.  Two were dead and two were dying.  I hate to cut down trees, but when they’re sickly there’s no point in keeping them around.   Before:






A separate crew will come back and grind the stumps in a few days.  Our backyard is looking so sunny now that I’m starting to draw mental plans for major garden expansion.  It’s probably not quite as sunny as I’m picturing, though.  The apple tree should get a lot more fresh air and sunshine now; saving it was a big part of why we chose to do this.


Fermenting and apples

Reader Edna asked if I had a recipe for fermented applesauce.  I looked through both Nourishing Traditions and Wild Fermentation, and also did some googling, but came up with nothing.  Every applesauce recipe that I’ve seen calls for cooking the apples, which, one would assume, would kill all the enzymes necessary for good fermentation.  So would a person just food-process the apples and make raw applesauce, then let it ferment for two days?  I found this basic recipe for raw applesauce.

Nourishing Traditions does have a recipe for a fermented version of apple butter, which I will share here.  I’ve never tried this one.  Anyone else out there that’s tried it?  This involves cooking the apples, so maybe cooking is a-ok when it comes to apples.  I still have so, so much to learn.

Apple Butter (from Nourishing Traditions)
4 c. dried apples
1 T. sea salt
1/4 c. whey (optional, but use a little extra salt if you leave it out)
1/4-1/2 c. raw honey, to taste

Cook apples in filtered water until soft.  Let cool slightly and transfer with a slotted spoon to food processor.  Process with remaining ingredients, and sweeten with extra honey if needed.  Place in quart-sized, wide-mouth mason jars.  The apple butter should be at least 1 inch below the tops of the jars.  Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 2 days before transferring to the refrigerator.  This should be eaten within 2 months.  Makes 2 quarts.

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CSA Week 12


These boxes just keep getting better and better.  Week 12’s full-share box:

1 head cauliflower
1 bunch cilantro
6 apples
2 heads bok choi
3 heirloom tomatoes
1 cantaloupe
1 bag green beans
Mixed peppers: 2 purple, 2 green, 1 banana
4 beautiful eggplants
5 cucumbers
1 pt box of crab apples

Tomorrow night (or maybe Saturday) I am going to make apple sauce with some of my apples and the crab apples.  I think they will give the sauce a nice tang.  Right now, at this very minute, we are canning tomatoes.  MANY tomatoes.  Will post about that tomorrow.

Standard CSA info:
What is a CSA?
Where do we get our CSA from? Food 4 Thought.
See all of my CSA posts

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DIY apple picker

We went all the way out to the suburbs this weekend to try and find an apple-picking tool at Fleet Farm.  Being unsuccessful, Adam decided to make one himself:


applepicker2It’s simply an old dishsoap container, with a wire hanger wrapped around it and affixed with duct tape.

This is my favorite detail:


It’s attached to an old broom handle.  We’d like to get a slightly longer one eventually but this will do for now.  Adam picked a bunch of apples while I was rocking the extremely rambunctious kids tonight, and we cut a bunch of them up for freezing.  We freeze them in 5-cup portions so that we can easily throw them into a pie or crisp over the winter.  This is significantly more putsy than applesauce, but it’s good to have variety.

peelingapplesWe also had a tree service out to give us a bid yesterday on removing our diseased/dead pine trees.  They think our apple tree has fire blight and for an extra $150 they will prune out all the diseased branches.  Apparently it’s quite an ordeal because you need to disinfect your tools between each cut to avoid spreading the blight to other areas of the tree.  Worth it?  Most definitely.

Update, 1 August 2010: Well, to be honest, this apple picker was not built to last.  It was covered with duct tape by the middle of the season last year, and completely fell apart at the end.  We were out at Fleet Farm this weekend and they had some apple pickers in stock so we picked one up for $11.


Applesauce time

We are so lucky to have inherited a large old apple tree with our house.  It has been sorely neglected over the years, but it still produces quite a few apples every year.  I’m not sure what kind they are; they’re small and green and turn partially red when they’re ripe.  They’re pretty tart, but definitely not the tartest I’ve ever had.

Today my parents were visiting so during the kids’ nap my mom and I picked a bunch of apples and made applesauce.

applesauce1Our method is: quarter and core the apples, pile them in a big stock pot, then cook down until mushy.

applesauce2Run them through a hand-cranked food mill to remove the skins.  I have an old Foley food mill that I bought quite some time ago.  I had to wash the dust off it before we used it.  I’m pretty sure it was less than $10 at a local hardware store.  When it’s all processed, give it a taste.  If you used really tart apples you might want to sweeten it just a bit.  I added about 3/4 c. of brown sugar and a good heaping tsp. of cinnamon.

applesauce3Check it: 8 pints and 1 quart of free food.   We’re going to eat the quart this week, and the pints I put into our freezer.  Applesauce freezes pretty well.  It also is relatively easy to can so I’m going to try that too at some point this fall.  I want to try a wide variety of preservation methods.  Freezing is really handy because it’s really… easy.  But we bought a pressure canner as our anniversary present to each other so we’re going to try that as well, most likely this coming week.

Tomorrow I’m going to do a post about different preservation methods and their ups and downs.  If you read my fermented salsa post you’ll see that there’s a lot of confusion about what it means to “pickle” or “can” or “ferment” foods.  I have tons of questions about them.  It’s all a learning process I guess.

We’re also embarking on a “save the apple tree” mission because I think a couple more years of neglect and it will peter out for good.  So we’re having 4 trees that surround it cut down this week (2 of which are dead and 2 of which are sickly).  Then I want to try and prune the apple tree and address whatever bug seems to be eating a fair number of its leaves.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 8/24: we had an arborist out at the house today to give us a bid on removing the dead/dying pine trees, and he informed us that our apple tree most likely has fire blight.  For a pretty reasonable price, the company will prune out all the infected branches when they’re here cutting down the other trees in a few weeks.  Yay!