I picked the apples from the tree in our yard a few weeks ago, gathered two bushels full. The man who supposedly knows about such things at the local farm down the street tells me I did so a good six weeks too early, that there’s no way they’re ripe yet, but they were falling off of the tree, lying on the ground to rot, and so what choice did I have? Ripe or not, they taste delicious, and we have enjoyed the crisp feel of them in our mouths.
Our pantry and freezer, empty of previous years’ stores, cry out for applesauce and apple butter, and so I have a plan and a purpose for these large boxes of fruit. They’re granny smiths, a bit on the tart side, and did some reading online: everyone says it’s best to mix them, half and half, with a sweeter variety to produce the tastiest product. Two bushels of granny smiths? No problem, I thought, I’ll just find myself two bushels of something else to complement them. And so I did. Picked them up yesterday afternoon, and now I have four bushels in my kitchen waiting to be processed.
Let me say that again. Four bushels. One hundred and sixty pounds of apples. Actually, a bit less than that now, because after spending a few hours yesterday and a few hours today on the project, I have turned slightly more than half a bushel into five and a half pints of canned apple butter, another seven or eight pints in the slow cooker, and a quart of applesauce. Though the results have been tasty, I must admit I am looking at vast quantities of apples and wondering what, exactly I was thinking, wondering whether I will ever see an end to all this fruit, wondering what we will do with so much sauce and butter.
I am unsure of the answer to the last two questions, but the first is easy. What was I thinking? I was thinking of apple butter and applesauce, of pantry stores full, of using what I had in front of me for Christmas gifts and just because gifts. I was thinking of the scents of fall, of the pleasure of making something delicious to eat and to share. I was thinking only of the number of apples I had, the magical 1-1 ratio, not of how many apples I really wanted to process, of how much butter and sauce I really wanted to make.
I wish I had some pithy lesson or illustration to draw from this experience, about counting the cost maybe, or setting my eyes on the prize, or persevering when faced with lots of work, perhaps even a reflection on the state of my own heart that I chose to increase what I had when faced with abundance instead of sharing with others. I wish I had something like that, but I don’t. I just have a lot of apples, a lot of work ahead of me, and a firm hope that I remember this next year, come harvest.
In the meantime, you’ll find me in the kitchen, paring knife in hand. Applesauce, anyone?
How about you? Done anything ridiculous lately?