Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Aside from zapping the occasional bag of frozen broccoli, my microwave doesn’t see much action.  Today, however, it is buzzing along at warp speed as I crank out batch after batch of applesauce. 

Three pails of transparent apples, fresh from Grandma’s farmyard, kick-started this production.  In summertime, my family doles out garden currency like lottery winnings.

After asking my folks for a favor last weekend, my typically generous father replied, “It’s gonna cost you.” 
“How much?” I asked. 
“Three buckets of apples.” 
You’ve heard of reverse mortgages?  This is a reverse payment.  My cost would be taking three buckets of apples off my father’s hands. 

Everything my parents grow goes to excess.  If I’ve inherited this trait, my zucchini clearly can’t decipher the DNA analysis.  Creeping Charlie, on the other hand… 
Each June, my mom and dad swim in strawberries, while July ushers in the triple-threat of cherries, sweet corn and transparent apples.  August through October is a tomato tsunami, with some peaches and apples thrown in for variety.  In most circles, excess is desirable.  Use what you want, share what you can, compost the rest. 

But at the top of this family tree hovers a 92-year-old wisp of a workhorse.  On the eve of Grandma’s 9th birthday, the stock exchange crashed, plunging this country into the Great Depression.  Her farm girl lifestyle was already one of frugal economy, but the state of the country colored her perspective of ‘plenty’ for a lifetime.  There is no sin or crime so great that it can overshadow the wastefulness of an unused harvest.  She pushes herself to make use of any food that comes her way.   Her freezer is loaded with quart upon quart of fruits and vegetables, just waiting to be handed off to a needy family. 

What she can’t use comes our way.  And the transparent apple tree is dropping its harvest in her yard.  So 84 years after the Great Depression, I’m standing in my kitchen with an overflowing bowl of peels and cores for proof of its effect.  Waste not, want not: a lesson our generation has yet to learn. 

Transparent apples are the earliest of apples, and they look it.   Their green skin looks decidedly unripe and perfectly mature fruits can be pretty small.  Some of the apples on my counter are the size of a small peach, although there are plenty of big ones to compensate.  They sport an intense Granny Smith-esque tartness with a soft texture.  Not my favorite for fresh eating, but incomparable for applesauce-making. 

They are relatively unknown for two reasons.  First, it’s hard to get them to market.  Once off the tree, they age quickly and bruise easily.  Secondly, their unique properties (tart and mushy) set them apart for baking and cooking.  For the majority of the population, cracking open a jar of Mott’s is considerably easier than making your own applesauce.  However, the process of making it is simple and takes less than a half hour.  Most importantly, our tastebuds will thank you. 

Grandma’s Applesauce

1.  Fill a 2 qt. container ¾ full of peeled, sliced apples.
2.  Add 2 T. water and cover with plastic wrap.
3.  Microwave for 5 minutes on high.
4.  Stir.
5.  Cook 2-5 minutes more.  The mixture can boil over, so watch closely. 
6.  Whip with a whisk and add sugar (to taste) while sauce is warm.


Casa Mariposa said...

WOW! That is easy! I thought apple harvests came much later. Didn't you do a post on earwigs eating your veggies? I think I may have them. I went looking for an earwig post on your blog but couldn't find one. Some hungry little bug is eating all my pepper flowers and I am pepper-less. Grrr!

Design to Grow said...

Earwigs. I really hate those things. At least they're not cute like asian ladybeetles or iridescently radiant like japanese beetles. They're hideous looking and it's so apropos. I talked about them last year in my CSI Irwin post and this year in my Outdoor Bouquets post. If you search under 'earwig' on my blog, they'll pop up.

The home made earwig soup works, it just requires being freshened every day or so. It'll give you a good idea as to whether you have an overpopulation of them. Good luck!

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