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Applesauce Patchwork

November 18, 2012

When you hear any talk about heirlooms in farming circles you can usually assume someone is talking about heirloom breeds of poultry, or other livestock.  I don’t get too worked up about heirloom chickens but heirloom apples and fruits are another story.  While I can be ho-hum about eating a delicious Cornish Cross chicken for Sunday dinner, you won’t see me eating a Red Delicious apple nor do I care for the many of the newer sweet varieties.


I’m blessed to have some antique apples trees in which to tweak my taste buds.  You gotta love trees that live over a century and still keep producing if we get the right weather.

Front to back, Grimes Golden, Blue Pearmain and Northern Spy

Tompkins King

Our King trees were literally covered with large apples this year; they are a good all-around cooking and eating apple; and they keep well, so we picked several boxes for storage and continually gathered windfalls for canning and the cow.  It was a good couple of weeks working in tandem with the Pileated Woodpeckers, for some reason they relish the Kings, and work the top of the trees pretty hard.

I finally finished my last batch of chunky applesauce yesterday with 56 quarts on the shelf.  I felt a little guilty peeling those giant apples just to cut them in small pieces.  Granted, they were windfalls, with a bruise here and there but I couldn’t help liken the process to my quilting.  My, we live charmed quilting and applesauce lives these days, buying large pieces of fabric just to cut them into small pieces so we can sew them together and form a large piece of fabric.  Or taking large apples to cut them into small pieces.  I found myself saving the largest apples to snack on instead of committing them to obscurity in a jar of sauce.   I thought it best to savor the apple in its whole form, just like those many yards of fabric that I just can’t bear to cut and have to save…for what I have no idea.

Northern Spy

But apples aren’t for saving too long, so now that the apple canning is out of the way we can enjoy the fall season a little longer with our stored bounty.

What apple varieties have stood the test of time in your area?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2012 3:40 pm

    Love the quilting fabric analogy regarding apple sauce apples – how very true. Still working on apple sauce in dribs and drabs – the bucket on the porch keeps pretty cool, but someone keeps topping it up with more windfalls as fast as I get the level down.

    I suspect it’s true in your area, since we’re not that far apart, that the old timers used to plant 3 varieties of tree in their apple orchards – Tomkin Kings, Northern Spy, and ….I can never remember what the third is supposed to be – in my own century orchard it’s a Gravenstein. They’re supposed to be early middle and late I think.

    Sea Cider Farm nearby makes a bunch of different types of (hard) cider – my favourite is called “Rumrunner” (aged in rum barrels) and a nod to prohibition days, and another is called “Kings and Spies” – and you know what apples they use for that one!

    • November 18, 2012 4:39 pm

      SSF, I think you’re right about the Gravensteins…that’s what is here, first the Gravs, then Kings, and now the Northern Spy is starting to drop. We have two century orchards, one is a mail order with all kinds of trees, and the one here at the house is the trio of Gravenstein, Kings and Northern Spy. The other homestead apple around here is the Yellow Transparent which ripens in early August is so welcome for the first apple, not a keeper but it sure makes a tangy sauce and or pie when it has been so long since the last apple.

      I think I may be able to scare up one more bucket of Kings and then that’s it. Do they water core in your area?

      Rumrunner sounds delicious!

  2. November 18, 2012 4:52 pm

    Nope, no trouble with water core, but I do get lots of codling moth. Since I use the apples almost exclusively for cooking or preserving, it’s not a big deal for me, as I’m cutting them up anyway. And I don’t get them in the Gravensteins. Don’t know why. The Gravs are my favourite – just so sweet and juicy.

    • November 18, 2012 5:33 pm

      SSF, that’s interesting about the codling moth, usually our Gravensteins have them, but the Kings skate by. The water core tastes pretty good anyway, and its easy to see it so none of those go in boxes to keep. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, usually whatever I’m eating is my favorite, I like them all. :)

  3. November 18, 2012 5:50 pm

    OMG, we would never be able to eat 56 quarts, lol. I wish I could get some old varieties of apple growing here. Heck I wish any variety of apple I planted here would grow.

    • November 18, 2012 7:46 pm

      Becky, that will last more than a year that’s for sure!

      Do you not have enough chill hours for apples?

  4. November 18, 2012 9:36 pm

    Nita all I can think of is what a wonderful porch that must be through the window – it looks so deep and wide! And your applesauce looks tasty too. xo!

    • November 19, 2012 6:06 am

      Annette, it’s skinny and in need of repair, the ongoing project of my life, now all the gingerbread is off and hopefully, next year…

      The applesauce is pretty good, just waiting for a pork dinner :)

  5. Cookie Roscoe permalink
    November 19, 2012 7:00 am

    I’m feeling inspired to make some sauce. I live in the city and follow you because it makes me feel happy to read about what you’re up to, but this time you’ve prompted me to action. There’s some apple trees near where I live (Toronto) that wind up dropping onto the roads and getting all smushed. I’m making us some sauce….

  6. November 19, 2012 3:36 pm

    I have been picking up apples from Rock Ridge Orchards up in Enumclaw and they have great names that I never remember when I get home and then I have to chastise myself for not writing it down while I’m at the farmstand.

    I have, and always will, have a special place in my heart for gravensteins – but not the green variety. They are too tart for me. I like the regular red. Last year we had barely any. This year, we seem to have had enough and lot’s of my sauce was gravensteins with some wayward unnamed apples off our derelict tree in the back yard that added sweetness and body.

    If I can beat the crows to them, that is. Damn Crows.

  7. December 3, 2012 4:34 am

    I love the old apples, winesaps and northern spies and baldwins and pippins. I need to check out Tompkins King, they are named for the New York County that is named for my husband’s great great great grandfather. It would be fun to grow some.

    • December 3, 2012 8:28 am

      Ali, you won’t be disapointed! Kings are delicious and pretty reliable bearers. What a great story :)

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