...and not a bite to eat! Well, ok, I lied. There was tons to eat, including this amazing apple cider donut (my favorite of all time).
This past Saturday a group of our friends including 6 adults (in physical age only), a three year old and a very cute Redbone Coonhound met at Shelburne Farm in Acton, MA for our Annual Apple Day. Unfortunately, a few of our friends weren't able to be there with us due to things like living in other states and illness, but the spirit of Apple Day was present nonetheless. We just hope they can make it next year.
The day was one of those that seems like it's going to be freezing, yet somehow you end up warm. After looking at the llama, sheep and goats and grabbing a donut, we began our trek into the orchard.
It actually took us a little while to find some good apples because many of the trees were picked clean on the portion that we could reach without a ladder. The main reason for this was that the farm was keeping certain areas of the orchard closed off so other pickers would be able to find fruit later on in the season.
We were looking primarily for Macs and Cortlands, which have turned out to be great choices for both pie baking and applesauce making over the years. After a little bit of hunting, however we did find some nice examples of appley goodness within reach and even discovered that our mini-person (blame Brian for that name) could fit under all the trees and get to all the apples we couldn't reach without breaking the branches. Luke, you definitely earned your keep on Saturday! I swear he personally filled the last 1/2 a bag himself while the rest of us just watched.
Katie the Coonhound also helped out by keeping us apprised of all the other people around us, not to mention the other dogs who came out with their respective family members. Isn't she beautiful? I always get such great pictures of her when she finds her way into my viewfinder.
After returning to the farm stand for our well earned cider and ice cream we headed back to Erin & Joel's to begin phase II of Apple Day: The Apple Peeling/Coring/Dicing Extravaganza. This process used to take ages, especially back in the day when we first started the tradition. For many years grossly overestimated how many apples we needed to make pies for each of the households and applesauce as well. So, the prep process seemed endless... especially since we did all the work by hand, but over time we gradually got better and then this year we were spot on.
We ended up getting only one bushel, which turned out to be the perfect amount to provide for all the folks present this year. We also have made the process less tedious by investing in a few apple peeler, corer/slicers. Of the two we used, mine (of course) was made of failure. Tara's, however, worked like a charm and the three of us girls had all the apples set to go in an hour or two. Edit: Correction! Mine is no longer full of fail. The cutting blade was just was set out far enough. Now that the adjustment has been made, mine works perfectly! Ha! Ok, well, except for the handle that keeps falling off...
We still have to cut the peeled apples after they go through the machine, but really this is so easy, its almost not like work at all.
At the end of the day, we would up with four pies (thanks go to Heather's mom for the recipe), a nice sized cauldron full of yummy tart applesauce we split up and 9 cups of apple butter (a newcomer to our usual recipe list). Mmmmmm... apple butter... It turns out that apple butter is really just applesauce that has been pureed and made thicker by boiling it down. You can find the recipe we used here at Cooking Light.