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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Portland Apple Festival

A few weeks ago I went to the Portland Nursery's 23rd Annual Apple Tasting Festival with my friends Jen, Julie and Brent.

There were 45 types of apple to taste at the time we went and only one which was completely out and unavailable for us to try though there were a few varieties which were sold out of the apples. There were also 15 types of pear.

The nursery itself has some great plants and a nice selection of statues and decor like these adorable asian inspired "huts" I really wanted to whisk away to my yard.

My personal favorite though was this gorgeous dragonfly and cat tail bird bath. If anyone is looking for an early Christmas gift for me...seriously...

Wandering over to the apples in bulk, we quickly discovered which apples were the most popular because they were going fast or gone completely already. Julie and Brent had hoped for some of the Mutsu...but this apple was all that remained. While staring at the pathetic leftovers, five other people came by commenting on how bummed they were that the Mutsu was completely out. We also joked the sign was not put out saying sold out yet because there was "technically" an apple left after all...

I came home and harvested the apples from our Columnar Sentinal apple trees which yielded a pretty great crop this year.

Here is after me adding what I did purchase at the Portland Nursery - a good pile of Cortland apples. On the far left are the few Swiss Gourmet apples I brought home for the husband to snack on.

And my friend Jen gave me her pile of Granny Smith apples to contribute to the pie filling fund as well. Three varieties is a perfect recipe for pie filling.

I have a friend who was just telling me a tale that she and her husband are making homemade pectin from apple cores and seeds which is genious and I wish I had thought of it at the time but I handed of this bowl plus another bowl of the peels and cores to my very happy to receive them chickens. The girls definitely make short work of anything sweet and leftover like apple peels. They love this time of year as they get the cast off tomatoes, berries and apple peels.

Next up is the steeping of the apples to get them softened up.

The syrup is made with apple juice (I use that instead of water for better thickness and flavor - I get sugar free since I am already adding sugar), sugar, clove, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon juice. After that is boiled and thick we are ready to can.

It is much better to work in layers - a layer of apples followed by some syrup and stirring to get the air bubbles out.

After leaving an inch of head room we process all the jars for at least 20 minutes. I gave my friend Jen two of my eight jars since she was kind enough to contribute apples and it takes two quart jars to make a 9 inch pie. So I have enough for three pies - Thanksgiving, Christmas and my thought is two different apple crisps throughout the winter for that warm comfort food. I also have two bags of peaches frozen that were picked fresh and sliced up for future peach cobbler which I think I will work to can next year as well nowthat I know how easy doing this was. I had never canned fruit before - only jams and such.

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