Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hijacking and Apples

My older brother and childhood idol, John, is guest blogging/hijacking my blog today out of Moscow...Idaho. This is a treat because he is a far better writer than I am. Here it goes:

Although apples have their roots in the uplands of central Asia Kazakhstan (also home to Borat), they have come to symbolize America: Jonny Appleseed, Apple Pie, and the nifty cure-all for staying out of the doctor’s office. Apples have long been cultivated and are one of the most diverse fruits due to the impressive genome, but most of the apples consumed today in the US come from a small handful of varieties, many of which may look Delicious, but resemble crispy cardboard.

Living in the Palouse, we’ve frequently noted the number of relic orchards, especially during late summer and early fall when the fruits of their endurance show their colors. In recent months we’ve foraged for wild yellow plums, blackberries, and apples that are not in circulation. Crystal and I picked 40 pounds of fruit at a local farm that became a county park, and Crystal labored to peel and cook down the apples to create several pints of apple butter.

On our quest to stock up the pantry for the winter and being ecoconscious individuals who enjoy keeping it local we’ve taken advantage of a combination of farmer’s market (Moscow voted the best in Idaho) and pick-your-own opportunities. We decided to load up on some more apples and apple products this past weekend at Bishop’s Orchard in Garfield, Washington. Garfield is a small town surrounded by rolling hills of wheat and also home to a cop we call Bernie <>.

Bishop’s Orchard is a sustainable farm featuring several varieties of apples, pears, cherries and an apiary. More importantly, they let you make cider with apples you’ve picked. While they feature 11 different apple varieties all maturing throughout late summer-early fall, we happened to visit during the prime of Liberty, McIntosh and Cortland harvest.

Fig 1: Crystal’s mid-morning stretch. Go-go gadget arms.

Meandering through the few acres of land, we decided to go after Liberty apples. Liberty apples are a relative “new” apple bred to be disease resistant, thus typically a more successful breed for the organic farmer. You probably won’t find Liberty apples at your local grocer, which is a bummer. Liberty apples have both tart and sweet components and a nice crunch, thousand times better than the apple formerly known as Delicious.

We also decided to get a bunch of McIntosh to make cider. At Bishop’s, you pick your own and make your own cider. This is an entertaining process that occurs using solid, but rudimentary equipment that your grandparent’s would have used back in the day. I violated a few rules of conduct and hence was demoted to being an observer.

Fig 2: I won’t comment whether I snorkeled for apples, but I was placed on time-out.

Fig 3: Basic physics: compression + gravity = cider.

After smashing the bejesus out of 25 pounds of Mac’s we collected a gallon of cider frothiness.

Fig 4: One group made 10 gallons of this while we were there. Money’s on that fresh cider turning hard in a short while.

Ninety minutes of picking and pressing, we left with 60 pounds of fresh apples (not including those I “taste-tested” along the way), 30 pounds of Bartlett pears, a gallon of cider and some local honey, all for $45. Should last until at least until Halloween.

Bishop’s Orchard


Eva said...

It's nice to meet you John. I love apple cider, it's so easy to cook with. 60lbs of apples and 30lbs of pears would be a year's supply for the two of us!

Dzoli said...

Hi John.You appear to be a good writer like your sister.I have apples in my orchard and have been thinking of making apple cider,just have no time:))Great stuff:)

Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

This is great! I plan to do some apple picking this week!

Let Me Eat Cake said...

i so would love to go apple picking! sounds so incredible. and foraged 40lbs of food that is so awesome!

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

I loved the post. Glad to be related to both of you. I am sure you didn't get your genes for writing from me. It must have been a mutation...

Helen said...

Great to meet you John! Informative write up too. Apple cider is one of the best things to come out of apples. So is mulled wine. Here's a great mulled wine from one of our Canadian celebrity chefs. Enjoy!

abatz said...

Hi all, First of all, thanks to Anna for having such an active blog space and hyperactive creativity!

Eva: yes, I think the average # consumed in the US is on par with your estimates. I am weird :)

Dzoli: It's all our mother's fault... If you let the apples do their thing, you may have backyard hard cider.

Jenn and LMEC: Now is the time, unless you want apples from cold storage or god forbid shipped on freight from S. America with an unnecessary carbon footprint.

Helen: yes, at higher latitudes outside of the vine growing climates, other fruits make good subs for fermented beverages. Are there any tropical fruit "wines" out there?

Mom: OK, yes a mutation of sorts, will can that explanation for other purposes.

BTW, Crystal made some nice pear sauce that it way better than boring old apple sauce. The natural spice from the pear >> apple sauce with cinnamon. Why don't we make more pear sauce and pear butter???