Amanda and I drove up to Wilkins Fruit & Fir Farm over Labor Day Weekend to go apple picking. It is a tradition we started the year we got married. Sometimes the weather is beautiful and warm, sometimes it is rainy and cold, sometimes we have friends with us, and other times it is just us. But we always go. It is a cute little farm and they always have fresh apple cider doughnuts to buy in their bakery. 🍩
This year it was just us and the weather was gorgeous. It was one of the first cool days of the season and the sun was shining. We ended up picking two pecks of apples, a mix of Gala and McIntosh.
Also, since we went earlier than normal this year, peaches were still in season! We picked a few pounds of those, too.
How we used our Harvest
Amanda made a peach galette and peach hand pies, then we canned the rest so that we can make another galette later this year. In the spirit of using as much as possible, I took the water we boiled the peaches in to remove the skin and used it to make a peach and raspberry tea. And, of course, we ate at least half a dozen peaches while prepping them.
First and foremost, we made and canned two batches of apple butter. We ate about a dozen apples between the two of us over the next week, then we took what was left and made canned apple pie filling. Amanda took one peck to work to sell at the coworking/meeting space she manages.
We might cruise up there again later this fall to buy some cider to ferment here at home with champagne yeast.
Amanda and I love apple picking. We go out in our flannel shirts, pick apples, eat cider donuts, sip hot apple cider, then come home and make apple butter and bake apple pies. It makes for a wonderful weekend.
This year we picked Macoun (cross between the McIntosh and Jersey Black) and Empire (cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious) apples.
A half-bushel of apples (pictured above) is enough for two pies, two batches of apple butter, and a few apples left over to eat.
We start making the apple butter around 7pm and let it cook in a crock pot overnight. The house smells amazing when you wake up in the morning. After just a few more minutes of work, you are ready to slather it on toast.
Here is our recipe:
5-6 lbs of peeled, cored, and finely chopped apples
4 cups sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/16 teaspoon cloves (4 whole cloves ground in a spice grinder)
1 pack of gelatin powder
Peel, core, and finely chop the apples. After rough chopping them, then pulse them in a food processor. You should end up with around 5.5 lbs. Use a kitchen scale.
Grind up any whole spices you are using.
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot, mix well, cover, and cook on high for an hour.
Turn the crock pot down to low after the hour is over, stir the mixture, put the cover back on, and go to bed.
If you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, stumble over to the kitchen and stir the simmering apples.
When you wake up 8-9 hours later, the house should smell amazing. Don’t sleep in too much; the apple butter only takes 11-12 hours of cooking time. Uncover the apple butter (which should look dark brown now), stir, and let cook uncovered for another hour to thicken up.
After you’ve cooked off the excess liquid, sprinkle the gelatin packet, and blend until smooth with a hand blender (they are cheaper than you think.) If you don’t have one, whisking will work fine, too. Don’t try pouring this all into a regular blender; the heat will cause it to paint your ceiling and walls as soon as you turn it on.
While the apple butter is still hot, spoon it into sterilized glass jars and screw the lids on. They should seal themselves within a few hours as the contents cools down.
The unopened jars should keep for months, but once opened they should be refrigerated.