We moved to McMinnville the beginning of September seven years ago. Our rental house has an amazing backyard with a huge herb garden, a lot of raspberry canes, two blueberry bushes, some rhubarb and two apple trees.
When we finished unpacking we could pay attention to the apples that littered the ground under one tree. I gleaned what I could and made some pretty darn good apple sauce and an apple pie. The rest of the ground fall was too far gone but I was eager for the next harvest. We brought an apple and some leaves to the farmers’ market where the master gardeners identified it as a Gravenstein.
That was a new apple to me. I grew up in the Northeast and my favorite was a sweet-tart Stayman Winesap. It made great sauce and pies and each apple was so large, you really only needed three or maybe four for a pie. In those days I was bothering to peel the apples before cooking, so the fewer, the better.
It was when I moved to Tennessee in the 1970s that I learned that apples generally have preferred growing zones, and regional varieties are not common elsewhere. So, the Gravenstein easily became my go-to and as Can-Do Real Food began, it was the apple found in the applesauce, the apple pie filling mix and later, dried.
But there was another apple tree in the backyard. Each year it would bloom but produce no apples. The master gardeners could not identify it from the leaves. All we knew was it was not a Gravenstein.
Both trees had not been properly maintained so we had them trimmed back. That next year we had about 6 apples on the mystery tree but I found them too late…..they were early summer apples and I had not checked early enough.
Last year we had a “bumper” crop—about 50 apples, all growing on the northeast section of the tree. (I have no idea why THAT was the growth pattern.) We brought the apple down to the farmers’ market and the master gardeners were stumped and suggested I take the apple to some apple agency office in the Portland metro area. We were not that concerned, especially after I took a bite….and was not impressed.
I made up some applesauce. It was flat…..so I added some sugar and cinnamon and lemon juice. It was edible, but nothing I wanted to use for Can-Do. So I canned the applesauce for home consumption.
But I got a brainstorm to thin the applesauce and make fruit-roll-ups that would become tasty with the addition of…..something.
I had some blueberries in the freezer and made a puree which I swirled into the applesauce mix on the dehydrator sheet. When I ran out of berries, I then sprinkled the rest of the applesauce trays with candied ginger.
Come taste the fruit roll-up concoctions this Thursday at the farmers’ market and see if I turned an early summer apple into something worth repeating.
It may be a moot point…both trees had abundant flowers and the Gravenstein is forming small apple buds now, but all the early apple tree shows is the remains of the flower. So, appears it was not pollinated and you know what, that is just okay with me. We get PLENTY from the Gravenstein!