Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Harvest: Apple Picking, Applesauce and Apple Prints

We had a lovely weekend in West Michigan with gorgeous sun all weekend - such a needed contrast from the previous gloomy week!  With some friends, we took the girls apple picking at a nearby orchard.  Like, really nearby.  We could have walked there.  How awesome is that?  It's only a few years old and this year was the first, at least to my knowledge, that the option to U-pick was available.  We picked both Golden Delicious and Jonagolds and grabbed a 1/2 bushel of Honey Crisp seconds.

And, what better to do with lots and lots of apples than make some applesauce and apple butter?  I've been obsessed with this canning book this summer.  Seriously.  Obsessed.  Between the book and the inspiration of my dear friend, Mara, who used homemade canned goods as both a beautiful centerpiece and wedding favor, I am hooked! I even dream of receiving a Squeezo Strainer like some may dream of winning the lottery.  (Incidentally, my grandma used to have one and I remember using it to make applesauce and to process our tomatoes - and there were LOTS of them (we are Italian, after all) - when I was little.  She passed away 15 years ago, but my father now lives in her house and every time I go home to visit, I search for it.  Alas, to no avail.  Maybe someday I'll find it; and that would really feel like winning the lottery!)

I put the girls to work peeling and helping to cut the apples, and together we made 16 pints of applesauce and 7 half-pints of apple butter.  We followed the sauce recipe closely, except for substituting apple cider for the water in the applesauce and throwing in a cinnamon stick.
The girls also enjoyed seeing the star shape made by the seeds in the apple core when it is cut cross-wise.  So, while our last pots of applesauce were bubbling on the stove, we cut all the remaining cores in half and used them with some paint for a stamping activity.  The girls had a great time with it.  Sydney made one that looked so much like pansies that I suggested that she paint on some green stems - it came out so well that it will probably become a holiday present for my father, who loves them.  As a side benefit, all the work with apples and seeds will lead nicely into our Science Thursday activity this week.

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