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Come with me as I travel through the real places of my life and into the steep, switch-back roads of the imagination. Join me. You'll be good company and your thoughts are welcome.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Apple Harvest days

By early October, Virginia Beauty apples are starting to ripen on the trees. The oldest tree on the property at A Point of View, as well as several of the newest, are Virginia Beauties.
The heart of the hollow at A Point of View Mountain Retreat
The old Virginia Beauty apple tree is at the center of the farm, in what we call 'the bowl.' Looking down into the bowl from True North, it's the single green tree to the left of the picnic shelter

Old Virginia Beauty tree heavy with apples (note the ladder) behind the shelter.
Knowing the tree was old, just hanging on, in January of 2005, we asked Ron Joyner of Big Horse Creek Farm to take cuttings for grafting onto new rootstock. Twelve years later, we have thriving new Virginia Beauties and cider varieties we bought from him at the same time.
New Virginia Beauties (Note the apple picker.)
Virginia Beauty apples on one of the fifteen-year-old trees.


The tractor bucket is a handy way to get up into the higher branches. Lift, stand and pick. Long-handled apple pickers and ladders help too. Crops vary year to year. For example, apples were larger in 2016 than 2017 when there were triple the numbers.

Ruth and Ginny sitting in the tractor bucket after picking bushels of apples. Hard won rest.
Washing the apples helps them store longer.
Virginia Beauty Apples, ready to process
Two other varieties of apples grow here as well, Strawberry Pippin and cider apples.

Mix of Strawberry Pippin and cider apples (yellow-green)
There have been years when a spring frost killed the blooms and there were no apples. These last couple of years have been bountiful though, with bushels to give away, bushels to process, and still lots left up high for the birds and on the ground for deer and other critters.

Cooking down pieces of apple for applesauce. Leaving the peel gives a rosy color.
 Processing includes freezing the apples ready-to-cook or cooked as pie filling or applesauce.

A food mill presses the applesauce out, leaving the peelings. Peeling first is easier, but this may be tastier.
Each year brings something new. This was our first year trying to make hard cider. There were just so many apples…

Wash and Sort

Chop

Press

Traylor is our cider-maker in chief.


Strain

Pour juice into a carboy where it will ferment.
Ferment in the cellar 3-12 months depending on the type of yeast added. (Note the airlock)
Study helps

 So this is apple processing season. All winter, we will have applesauce. We can bake pies. And then, in three months, we can test the cider. "It's ready when it tastes right," according to Charlie Henley. It will clear and stop fermenting. Hey, we'll let you now how it turns out.

Stay tuned…

Come visit early October to pick your own apples. Stay in the Nuthouse Cottage. Check us out at www.nuthousecottage.com.