This month's notes: December 2013: The weather is great, apples are ripe (see our apple varieties guide), hayrides, Fall fun and corn mazes are open now! See this page for hundreds of easy canning and freezing instructions/recipes, canning equipment guide! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Then see each state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. Organic farms are identified in green! See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!
Apple Picking Tips
Apple Facts, Festivals and Picking Tips
Apples are one of the easiest fruit to pick and use. They're big, not easily bruised, most varieties store well, they can be eaten fresh, cooked, canned, frozen and made into many tasty and healthy dishes. Apples are fat-free, low sodium, and cholesterol-free. A bushel weighs between 42 and 48 lbs. A medium apple has about 80 calories. Apples originated in the Middle East (in an area between the Caspin and the Black Sea) more than 4000 years ago! They were the favorite fruit of ancient Greeks and Romans. Apples arrived in England at around the time of the Norman conquest (in 1066) and English settlers brought them to America in the 1600 and 1700's. Only the crabapple is native to North America. Johnny Appleseed did really exist; his name was John Chapman, and he was born on September 26,1774 near Leominster, Massachusetts. (For more about Johnny Appleseed, see this page!)
Most modern apple orchards have dwarf trees that are very close to the ground - my 3 year old finds it easy to pick apples! (photo above and below)
Select firm, bruise-free apples. The color can be anything from dark green, to yellow, pink, orange, bright red, dark red or even a combination. It all depends on the variety. And color is not really how you tell when an apple is ripe. Apples should be crisp and firm.
The key will be to ask the farmer which are ripe. He will know because it is calculated from the number of days since the trees flowered. And he will track that date carefully , if he's a good apple grower!
The farmer will also know what characteristics to look for in the particular varieties that he is growing.
When are apples ripe - how to tell!
Apples ripen from the outside of the tree towards the center, so the apples out the outside of the tree will ripen first. Once they are picked, they stop ripening. Picking apples directly from a tree is easy. Roll the apple upwards off the branch and give a little twist; don't pull straight away from the tree. If two apples are joined together at the top, both will come away at the same time. Don't shake the trees or branches. If the apple you are trying to pick drops, (or others on the tree) go ahead and pick it up. They're perfectly fine! But do wash them before you eat them!
A visitor who grew up on an orchard says to try to leave the stem on the apples. He says that helped them store longer!
It's all about the variety!
Of the apple, that is. You really need to choose the type of apple that is best suited for your purpose. Apples can be suited for eating fresh, cooking, baking, applesauce, storing, etc. I have a fairly extensive guide to apple varieties here!
- Once picked, don't throw the apples into the baskets, place them in gently, or they will bruise and go bad more quickly.
- Don't wash apples until just before using to prevent spoilage.
- For an explanation of why apple slices turn brown and how to stop it, see this page!
Keep apples cool after picking to increase shelf life. A cool
basement is ideal, but the fruit/vegetable drawer of a refrigerator will
work, too. Kept cool, fresh-picked apples will generally keep weeks, but it
DOES depend on the variety. Red and Yellow Delicious apples do not keep
well, for example; but Rome, do! High humidity helps to to keep the apples
from shriveling, but don't let them get actually wet. A wet towel placed
nearby helps to keep the humidity up. A refrigerator is fine for small
quantities of apples. Boxed apples need to be kept in a cool, dark spot
where they won’t freeze. Freezing ruptures all of an apple’s cells, turning
it into one large bruise overnight. The usual solution is to store apples in
a root cellar. But root cellars often have potatoes in them: apples and
potatoes should never be stored in the same room because, as they age,
potatoes release an otherwise ethylene gas, which makes apples spoil faster.
If you can keep the gas away from your apples, they will keep just fine.
Just don’t store them right next to potatoes.
Prevent contact between apples stored for the winter by wrapping them individually in sheets of newspaper. The easiest way to do this is to unfold a section of newspaper all the way and tear it into quarters. Then stack the wrapped apples
- Nutrition and miscellaneous facts: One-half cup of apples is only 42 calories. Apples contain no cholesterol or fat and are also low in calories. T Apples are high in dietary fiber, Vitamin A and niacin. They contain iron and other trace minerals and are a fair source of Vitamin C.
- Apples are ranked No. 1 in antioxidant activity compared with 40 other commercially available fruits and vegetables. That means a serving of apples has more of the antioxidant power you need to fight aging, cancer and heart disease.
- Put this in your pipe! Indians in the Northwest Territory smoked wild apples to preserve them for the winter. (Bet you didn't know that!)
Canning apples - fully illustrated, with step-by-step instructions
- How to make applesauce
- How to make apple butter
- NEW: How to make apple jelly
- How to make apple pie filling (canned)
- How to can apples
Recipes, illustrated with step by step instructions
- Apple pie recipe and directions and illustrated! I can say, with, ahem, no bias at all, that this is the best apple pie recipe in the world! (Alright, I did have an apple strudel in Vienna once at that place listed in Fodors that was REALLY good, but that wasn't a pie, was it? And since this was the recipe my grandmother used, it must be great!)
- How to make applesauce for a single meal (not canning it) with NO special equipment
- Apple crunch - best of all! Moist, low sugar and using oats!
- Apple crisp - ever-popular, low sugar and using oats!
- Apple, blackberry, cherry, and/or peach cobbler
- Apple-blackberry, crumble - a English favorite (or favourite)
Want to Grow Your Own Apples?
I do and it's easy and fast. Apple trees I planted in my yard two years ago are bearing several dozen fruit each this year! Here's a guide to selecting a variety to grow and how!
Looking for Apple Cider?
And a fun tour? Check out Cider Mills.com! They list the cider mills where you can go for a tour (and tasting! yum!)
Apple Facts and Fun!
- 2500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States.
- 7500 varieties of apples are grown throughout the world.
- About 100 different varieties of apples are grown commercially in the United States.
- A bushel of apples typically weighs between 42 and 48 lbs.
- Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.
- Apples are grown in all 50 states.
- Europeans eat about 46 pounds of apples annually.
- United States consumers ate an average of 45.2 pounds of fresh apples and processed apple products. That's a lot of applesauce!
- 61 percent of United States apples are eaten as fresh fruit.
- 39 percent of apples are processed into apple products; 21 percent of this is for juice and cider.
- The top apple producing states are Washington, New York, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and Virginia, which produced over 83 percent of the nation’s 2001-crop apple supply.
- Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber.
- In 2001 there were 8,000 apple growers with orchards covering 430,200 acres. (don't know how many of those are PYO).
- The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit, but you normally buy 2 or 3 year plants at the nursery, so it's only 2 years till they produce!
- Most apples are still picked by hand in the fall.
- Did you know you can carve an apple to make a doll? Weird, but true and they look neat! See this website for how to make one yourself!
- Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
- In Europe, France, Italy and Germany are the leading apple producing countries.
- Apples are a member of the rose family.
- Apples harvested from an average tree can fill 20 bushel boxes that weigh 42 pounds each.
- 25 percent of an apple's volume is air. That is why they float.
- It takes the energy from 50 leaves to produce one apple.
- Apples are the second most valuable fruit grown in the United States. Oranges are first.
- In colonial time apples were called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.
- China is the leading producer of apples with over 1.2 billion bushels grown in 2001. The U.S. is number 2 and then Turkey, Poland and Italy.
- Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768, some were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London.
- One of George Washington's hobbies was pruning his apple trees.
- America's longest-lived apple tree was reportedly planted in 1647 by Peter Stuyvesant in his Manhattan orchard and was still bearing fruit when a derailed train struck it in 1866.
- A bushel of apples weights about 42 pounds (up to 48 lbs) and will yield 12 to 15 quarts of applesauce.
- It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
- And the many apple associations listed on this page have more facts and resources
Current Season (2013) Apple News
Fruit Grower News reports that the US Apple Association announced that the 2013 U.S. apple crop will be about 243 million bushels. That's a 13 percent increase over 2012’s final crop of 215 million bushels, and a 9 percent increase over the five-year average (224 million bushels). It's the largest crop since 2004, according to USDA numbers. This is good news for apple lovers as it should hold the line on apple prices this Autumn. I'll predict the price range for apples wholesale (such as at large real farm markets and at orchards) to be between $15 to $30 per bushel, depending upon the variety and location. Popular varieties, like Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, etc. will probably be around $22 - $26/bushel (wholesale).
Weights and Approximate Typical Processed Yields of Apples
You should get this much...
Commonly made products
|1 bushel = 12 to 15 qt.
canned applesauce (no sugar added), 14 - 18 with sugar
1 bushel = 10 to 12 qt. juice
||1 quart applesauce||2 pints|
|8 medium apples = 2.25 lbs||1 nine-inch apple pie
3 cups of applesauce
|1 peck = 10 to 14 lbs|
Apple FestivalsHere is a list of major apple festivals in the U.S., Britain, Australia and other countries. If you know of any more, please write me! Feedback
Don't forget the Ball Blue Book!
Home Canning Kits
* All the tools you need for hot waterbath canning - in one comprehensive set!
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This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also s simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if your want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see
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Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.
Need lids, rings and replacement jars? Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes? Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!
[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!] [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]
Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes
[ All About Home Canning, Freezing and Making Jams, Pickles, Sauces, etc. ] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]