I never had to worry about the amount that the children ate. Our family loved all kinds of fruit. There were lots of apple trees on the farm. Grandma Swanson made pies with the Greenings. We ate the Kings, Russets, and McIntosh. Really a variety of apples makes for a good pie. It is good to mix the sweet and the tart.
Our neighbors had Transparents. I was often invited over there to pick some. The one time I especially remember the ninety something farmer set the ladder up for me. I noticed that the ladder did not look very steady so I was reluctant to crawl up. He assured it me it was safe. Just to be on the safe side I checked to see if the ladder fell to the next branch that it was a sturdy one that was not too far away.
Our children carried lunches most of the time because they did not like the school milk. They were used to raw milk from the farm. As long as they carried lunch pails they could have milk from home in the thermos. They also carried a lot of apples. Once we picked the apples we stored them down in the basement so we had fresh apples for at least half of the winter.
Of course, I canned some apples for pies and made some into applesauce. I never froze my pies because we liked fresh apple pies. I think the crust stayed better when they were baked and then eaten without freezing them in between. Can you believe that we actually used lard for our pie crusts? If you want a flaky crust, you use lard. When we butchered the pigs I rendered the lard and put it into cake pans to harden. When it was set I cut portions just enough to make a pie and froze them. When a cousin and his wife came for a visit she raved about my pie crust. Since she was a very finicky eater I hated to tell it that it was the lard that did it.
When I was a youngster my family went out to a farm to pick apples. Since I was able bodied at the time I was allowed to climb the ladder to reach for the best ones. I remember that they gave us a bucket with a hanger that fit over the rung of the ladder. When the pail was filled you climbed down and put the apples into the bushel basket.
We stored our apples in a small fruit cellar in the basement. Every evening either grandpa or I went to the cellar to get some apples for a snack. Snacks were different back in those days. We usually ate fruit instead of sweet or salty treats.
Grandma could not tolerate raw apples but she could eat apples when she made them into applesauce. We always had fresh applesauce to eat with our meals.
I am always anxious for the first apples of the season. I love the early Transparent variety, but they do not keep well. My daughter brought some of those that she picked from that tree that I mentioned earlier. We all enjoyed having fresh apples that week. You have to eat them quickly or they are all brown inside. They make wonderful applesauce, but you must peal them or the applesauce looks like it has brown specks. Can you tell that I tried that short cut once?
Last week I bought a basket of local apples. I chose the Cortland variety since I really like the crispy white flesh and the tart taste. I could not wait. As soon as I got into my car I hauled out an apple and bit into it. It was as delicious as I thought it would be. It was gone long before I made it home.
Yesterday I grabbed another apple out of the basket. I think whoever packed them made a mistake. I am sure that the apple I ate was a McIntosh instead of a Cortland. Maybe a customer put one in the wrong basket who knows?
This spring we did not have a killing frost while the apple trees were in blossom so there are plenty of apples. A paper that I picked up at one of the orchards noted that all seasons are important for apple trees. In the winter when it looks there is nothing going on, the trees are dormant or resting. That is the time that they should be pruned so that they produce a good crop the next year. The trees need sunshine so it is important to trim them so the sun gets to the apples.
Spring is the growing season. The leaves come, then the buds. Apples grow from the base of the flowers and the flowers fall off. This is the season when the bees do their work. If it was not for pollination we would not have fruit.
During the summer the apples increase in size and begin to change color. For the orchards that use spray to keep pests at a minimum this is the time for spraying. If you do not spray the tree you will still get apples but they may have some deformities. We prefer our apples to be natural so we do not spray, but commercial growers spray several times during the season.
Of course, fall is the season for harvest. Apples are good for you. Each apple has about 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, less than a gram of fat, plus calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene.
I have found that apples cut and cooked in the microwave with a little bit of butter and some sugar and cinnamon make a tasty snack. That gives me a little variety as I eat my apple a day.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org