The best time to plant a tree is yesterday. The second best time is now. My father told me this often and he lived the words – he’s been known to plant trees in December and have them thrive! We used to “rescue” trees from the road allowances (if a sapling started in the ditch, it would be cut down by industrial mowers to promote good road visibility) so we would take slow drives and save the trees that we could. Even though Sweet Baboo says we have no more room for trees, he turns a blind eye to the three avocado trees and many other seedlings that will quietly make their way into the house to overwinter. He even persuaded me to buy a pear tree this spring! Hope springs eternal!
Trees are to be loved. Period.
The best part about our little home is all the trees that live there with us. They are wonderful!
This summer, the rains have pelted down and made for great tree growth. Fruit production was another story, but that’s ok. The apple harvest was smaller than usual, but there is still a lot to do.
The first year in our place, I wasn’t sure what to do. A person can make a lot of fancy apple recipes, but you can’t eat them all at once. When you harvest a tree, the fruit is all ripe at the same time, for the most part. I decided that it was best to make basic things that I could work with throughout the year. That settled the choices down to four things:
- Apple juice
- Apple butter
- Apple syrup
Let’s start with apple juice. Like chicken stock, it is a basic building block as well as a nourishing food all on its own.
I cut enough apples to fill one ice cream pail:
How much is that? It varies with the kind of apple and their size, but this is roughly how many I used to make 8.5 litres:
The ice cream bucket full of apples is dumped into a large canner. It’s going to be pretty warm, so I layer oven mitts and pot holders underneath the canner and put it on the floor.
Now it’s time for 1tsp of cream of tartar to be sprinkled over the apples – this helps to keep the juice a pretty yellow and makes the flavour bright and crisp.
The last ingredient is 36 cups of boiling water to pour over the apples and cream of tartar in the canner. (Now you understand why I put the pot holders under it!)
Once the boiling water is poured over the apples, I put the canner lid on firmly and set a timer for 24 hours. The apples release their juice during that time.
The timer beeps and I rush over with a slotted spoon to remove the quartered apples. Their job is not over – they go out into the garden as compost so that things can grow happily next year.
The juice in the canner needs to be sweetened and pasteurized, so I try to pour equal amounts of juice into my two dutch ovens. To this, add 3/4cup of white sugar and stir it until it dissolves. Now place a cover on each pot and bring the juice to a rolling boil. As soon as the boiling starts, set a timer for 5 minutes.
While waiting for the finished juice, I get 9 one quart canning jars out and sterilize them. They wait in the sink until the boiling is over and then I pour the juice into them right there so that if I spill any juice, there isn’t much cleanup to do. The juice gets ladelled in and I put the lids on and sit them on the counter:
The jars will make a popping sound within an hour of sitting them there – that’s the vacuum in the jar sealing the goodness in. Some folks say you can take the band off then, but I leave it on and hand tighten it a little more just to be sure things are sealed well.
These jars can be stored at room temperature in a cupboard until the juice is used. I couldn’t tell you how long it lasts because it tends to fly off the shelf!