An apple a day!

All of you have most likely heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I suppose there is some truth to that because an apple is a fruit that is good for you.

Apples have always been my favorite fruit. I love to eat a crisp white apple straight from the orchard. When I was growing up going apple picking was a regular fall occurrence. My grandparents, my mother, and I put some bushel baskets in the car and took off for the orchard.

In the early days I was not allowed to climb the ladder, but as I grew older I was not only allowed, but was encouraged to be the one that climbed the ladder. We usually traveled to an orchard just outside of Forestville. We roamed through the orchard to find the trees that held the apples that we hoped to pick.

Grandma liked the McIntosh while I preferred the Cortlands. I would not turn down either of these varieties though. Once we got home grandma made applesauce. She did not make enough to can, but definitely some went into the freezer. The rest of the apples were stored in the basement in what was called the fruit cellar.

Often grandpa and I shared an apple during the evening hours while watching our favorite television programs. Neither of us needed a full apple just before bedtime, but we enjoyed a piece or two. Grandpa sent me to the fruit cellar. Then, he took his paring knife and cut the apple into four pieces. We each got two pieces. Grandpa did all of this while seated in his rocking chair – the one that I now have in my living room. Just looking at that chair reminds me of my grandfather. It was his favorite chair.

My grandmother seldom made pies. I think she did not like to bother with the crust. Since she had a touchy stomach she always peeled the apples she used. She made a lot of apple crisps. I really liked those. While my grandfather ate his covered with milk I preferred mine plain.

When I moved to the farm we had our own apples. There was a King apple tree that was grafted to a Russet tree. That meant that one side of the tree produced King apples while the other side had those little brown apples that were so sweet. I learned early on that when you used the Russets you peeled them or you had speckled applesauce. You could eat them straight from the tree. Our son enjoyed taking them in his lunch. He was often teased about the “rotten” apples, but he did not care.

The King apples were tart but sweet. They were good keepers. The only thing that happened to them was they got some small brown flecks throughout the flesh. Those spots did not hurt the quality of the apple in the least. We also had some Greenings. They were especially good for pie or crisp. I remember another large green apple in the orchard but cannot recall what it was.

On the upper farm where my sister-in-law lived there were Northern Spy apples. They were the last ones that we picked. They kept very well all winter. It was such a treat to have our own apples to just go and pick whenever we wanted. We always had a variety of apples to choose from.

I remember the year I was pregnant with our daughter that I donned coveralls to pick some apples in the side hill. The reason for the coverall was to keep from getting pricked by the briers that were on that hillside. Of course, I had my one-year-old with me. He loved apples. Every time I looked he had an apple in each hand and a bite out of each of them.

I think that apples are still his favorite fruit as well. It seems like they always have some apples in a bowl on the counter when I go down there. I now have a little pail to keep my apples – a gift from my one grandson. I also have a pumpkin that his mother painted complete with a chipped tooth to match the tooth that he chipped climbing into an empty bath tub. Every time I get it out I think of him as a little guy. He was so cute!

I used to go visit my father-in-law’s cousin, Goldie. One thing that she got hungry for while she was in the home was apples. When I visited I tried to take her things that she missed. An apple or two usually made the basket. I think she probably cut them because by the time she was over 100 years old her teeth were not what they used to be.

I love to have apples all year long so that I can make my favorite apple dishes. I have printed the apple crisp recipe before but I will include it here in case you lost it. I will also give the simple ambrosia recipe that I saw a television cook make. It is one of my favorite salads.

Apple Crisp

6 apples sliced and peeled ¾ tsp. salt

1 c. flour 1 egg

1 scant c. sugar cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder ½ c. butter

Slice apples into 10×10 glass dish. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and egg.

Spread over apples. Melt butter. Pour over topping. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes.

Ambrosia

5 – 6 apples peeled and grated 1 sm. can crushed pineapple, juice and all

¼ c. orange juice handful of coconut

Mix all ingredients and let set for about 30 min. before serving.

Get out into the orchard this year and pick some apples for your family. Even if you do not physically pick them, you can pick the varieties you enjoy. They usually have some for you to sample as you make your decision. And do not forget the cider. It is so good!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net