The Apple Harvest

    • Chrysanthemums come in bright fall colors to give you instant color in flower beds and containers.
    • If your bearded iris blooms were sparse this year or the plants are more than four years old, now is the time to divide and replant them. Mix some bone meal into the soil, and plant the rhizomes just beneath the soil surface.
    • Cover newly planted vegetable starts to protect them from birds. Spray cabbage and broccoli plants with BT to control cabbage worms which make holes in the leaves.
    • Lettuce can be planted from starts for a quick fall crop.
    • When blackberry vines are done fruiting, prune back the canes which bore fruit this summer. Twine young canes around the fence or trellis.

What To Do With All Those Apples

The apple crop is plentiful this year and trees laden with fruit can be seen throughout the county. As we pack the buckets and baskets high with apples, our thoughts soon turn to how to store and preserve as much as possible.

The first question is when to pick the fruit. As the skin color gradually changes from green to yellow, the flesh inside turns from greenish to creamy white. The stem of a ripe apple will break easily and cleanly when the fruit is tipped upward. In most varieties, the seeds turn dark brown when the fruit is ripe, but this isn’t always the case, especially with early-ripening cultivars. Most importantly, ripe fruit tastes good.

Storing apples over the long-term is tricky. Apples keep best if stored between 32°F and 40°F with high humidity. The length of time apples can be stored depends on the variety and their soundness at harvest. Late-maturing varieties like Yellow Newton Pippin, Winesap, Arkansas Black, Northern Spy, Honeycrisp and York Imperial will store the best. Pick the fruit when it is mature but still hard, and remove any with soft spots or holes.

Canning, freezing and drying the surplus allows you to reduce the needless waste of your hard-won crops.

With a simple canning kettle you can preserve hundreds of apples for use over the next year or two. Apples are most easily made into applesauce, by just cutting them into chunks and cooking them down to your desired consistency. They can also be made into apple butter, apple-and-mint jelly, apple jam and apple pie filling.

Apples can be dried or frozen. A tasty way of preserving lots of apples is by dehydrating them. You can dry them with or without the skins on, but it takes longer to dry them if you leave the skins on. Core the apples and slice them into apple rings, or make them into delicious apple chips.

It’s easy to freeze apples. Put ½ cup cold syrup in each container with ascorbic acid added. Then slice apples directly into syrup, press fruit down, add syrup to cover and seal containers.

You can press apples to make apple juice, apple cider or cider vinegar. Home pasteurize the apple juice by boiling and then freezing it to make sure that nothing unwanted grows in the liquid.

Chutneys and relishes are forms of pickling that are well suited to apples. Apple chutney and sweet apple relish can be canned in the same way as applesauce. Apples, of course, make wonderful baked goods. Apple pies are a fall favorite, and so are apple crisps, apple cakes and breads. Try apple bars, cookies, muffins and scones. These can be cooked and then frozen, after they cool, to be served up to six months later.

Baked apples and apple salads are delicious uses for fresh apples. Try apple pudding, apple strudel or caramel apples. Apples can be added to soups, salads and entrees. And, of course, be sure to eat your “apple a day”.