Monday, August 10, 2009

Apples and Plums

In the drizzle the orchard appeared even more plush and beautiful and I carefully climbed onto the ladder to pick that first apple. They were yellow transparent apples, malus domestica. Said to have originated in Russia and introduced in the United States sometime during the late 1800s, this variety is often found in old family orchards or in old farm fields but are not that common in orchards today or at the farmers market. Transparent apples, maturing in mid-summer rather than the fall, make absolutely the best applesauce, and are said to make a great pie filling too. They really are quite the summer treat!
The orchard was well established and filled with many other varieties of apple trees, prune, pear and peach trees and several different kinds of plums. Wet from the rain, some branches were so heavy with fruit that they drooped to the ground and I knelt down on the wet grass as I filled bags with juicy ripe plums for making into jam later.Running along one side of the orchard is California Creek. Several miles in length, the creek flows into Drayton Harbor. Beautiful even on a rainy day, after picking the fruit we walked down to the shore where I was invited to return another day to paddle their canoe for a closer look at the creek. Later, in my kitchen, I took a look at all the fresh fruit I had harvested and knew I'd better get to work.
Starting with the apples, I made up a large pan of applesauce. Cooking up fast into a rich and creamy texture, these yellow transparent apples probably made the best applesauce I've ever tasted. Filling several tubs of applesauce for my freezer, I also enjoyed a bowl while it was still slightly warm. Its flavor, naturally sweet yet slightly tarte. Yum! Next I'll try a pie, then make more sauce with the rest of the apples. After that, I'll be making plum jam.
Here's a quick photo tour of the orchard and creek.

Yellow Transparent Apple - Applesauce
12 Cups chopped apple pieces (approximately)
2 Cups water
1 Cup sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
Wash, peel, core and cut yellow transparent apples into large chunks. Place in large pan with two cups of water. Cook over medium heat for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apple mixture cooks down, becoming thick and creamy. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cinnamon until well blended. Serve warm or chilled. Applesauce will keep for up to one year in the freezer.

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