Friday, November 30, 2012

Last day of apple picking is Fri, Dec 7th.

Good morning!

Just wanted to give an update.

After analyzing the situation, we have decided our last day of apple picking for this year will be Friday, December 7th. 

Thank you so much for the great year!  God definitely had blessed us with beautiful apples this year and customers who have so much fun when they come out.

You must all be telling your friends because we seem to have new people every year.  Thanks for the word of mouth advertising!

I will admit, it is always strange at the end of August to have all these people showing up at our farm.  But by December when apple season is over, it always seems way too quiet and sad without you all!!!  It has been fun to hear all your stories and all the plans you have for the apples.

Hope to see you again next year!  We will be working hard until then to grow some nice apples!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Still hanging in here with apples on the trees

 A quick check of the orchard showed quite a bit of Granny Smith, Gold Rush and Pink Lady left.   A decent amount of Braeburn and just a small amount of Fuji all the way at the far end of the row.

We are expecting to close the orchard for the year in the next week or two so it looks like your last chance for apples.  

Don't forget that if you store apples in the fridge or a cool place, especially these later varieties, they will stay good for several months (if not longer). 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Yep, we still have apples!

Just drove around and took the tour.  

Still lots of Granny Smith and Gold Rush!!
Definitely a decent amount of Pink Lady.
And also some Braeburn and Fuji

For the Braeburn, your best bet for finding them is to go to the southwest corner of the orchard by the road.    

(While you are in the Braeburn section, you will see some Red Delicious over there too.  The Red Delicious are a dark red apple with a pointy bottom.  Now I would honestly say that in my opinion, these are the nastiest apples to buy at the grocery store and I avoid them.  But just now trying one of the Red Delicious out in the orchard, WOW!  They are not even the same.  They are crunchy and sweet and not mushy at all.  If you are over picking Braeburn, grab a few to put in your bucket and try them!!

For Fuji and Pink Lady, just walk about halfway down the row and you will find plenty. 

We are still planning on having apples through Thanksgiving.  After that, it will be week by week to see what is left.  Just keep checking the blog, or call if you are wondering if we are still open.

Actual Thanksgiving Day will be low key around here.  It will be self service if you are wanting to pick for some reason.

A few rows are getting muddy and some are just fine, so bring cruddy shoes or boots if you are worried. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pink of the orchard!

Pink Lady is the star of the orchard right now!  

The following 3 pictures are all Pink Lady.  We have plenty left with half a mature row still available.

 Second star of the orchard would be Gold Rush.  Lots of these nice apples left too.

 No picture of Granny Smith but we have lots of these left on the 2 short rows.  (Skip the main long row and look for the 2 short rows just next to it.)

We have 2 rows of Rome and there are apples on the far end of each. 

A decent amount of Braeburn left.  There is quite a bit in the  far southeast corner of the orchard out by the road.  In the main young row of Braeburn, there are a little left at the south end, but you will find more in the corner area that I just talked about.

You will still find some Jonagold out there.  They have been hanging awhile so they are definitely ripe but still have a nice crisp crunch to them.

Also available are Fuji, Red Delicious, and a little Golden Delicious.

So we still have a nice selection out there.  Just have to walk to the ends of the rows to find them!

Dehydrating be continued...

To continue you on with our dehydrating apple talk, we received some good advice from Elise, who has quite a bit of experience with drying.  Thought you would like to hear from her experience.  Thank you for sharing Elise!

 1. Use a variety of apple that works well in your "peeler". Oversized apples are a pain to peel by hand and by picking varieties that fit your peeler you will cut down on the work by a HUGE amount.

2. Use as ascorbic acid (500 mg vitamin C pills with no additives) as a good replacement for fruit fresh or pineapple juice to prevent browning.  I use 6-8 tablets dissolved in a container of cold water and throw the whole sliced and peeled apples in and then cut them in rings when I pull them out to put on the tray.

3. I dry my apples to the brittle or near brittle stage because I happen to like them that way and there is little chance of them having hidden slices that are damp enough to cause problems.  I store them in the food saver vacuum sealed bags and then toss in freezer-just to be safe.

4. I use dried apples in muffins and take the frozen apples directly from freezer and beat'em with a rolling pin to shatter into small shards.  Throw the shards in cool water to cover and plump up, then add to muffins.  Wonderful added to bran muffins along with raisins, pecans to make a hearty and nutritious muffin!

5. My dog loves dried apples as a training "treat"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dehydrating apples

Apple Update:

We still have lots of apples still to choose from out here on the farm.

Lots of Pink Lady, Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Golden Delicious, Gold Rush, Rome, Cameo and some Melrose if you walk to the far south of the row.

We are guessing apples will be available until sometime around Thanksgiving.

I will have to say I am impressed with you guys.  Last weekend, it was RAINING, and you guys still came out!  A tad crazy I think you all are, but very impressed with the way you just come out and get your picking done.  A brave soul our customers are :)

But the good news is.......This weekend looks like GREAT weather!  Sunny and mild.  Thank goodness for that!

Other Happenings:

I have been playing around with dehydrating apples.  It was my first time and I was surprised how easy it was!

If you are interested in drying apples, here is how I did it:

I decided to experiment with many of the different kinds of apples to see if each variety made a big difference in flavor, how long they took to dry, etc.

First I used my apple peeler/corer to skin and core my apples.  Plus it cuts the apples into even slices.  Very important when you are drying apples because you want the slices to dry at the same rate.  You could do thicker slices too if you were cutting by hand, just try to make the all about the same size. 1/8-1/4" slices are best.

Once they are off the peeler, all I do is cut them in half.  Then I will have moon shaped apple slices.

With the dehydrator I had, it recommended soaking the apples in pineapple juice.  (There were other options too but this seemed the most simple).  You can soak them anywhere from 5 minutes to awhile longer.  I chose to soak for 5 minutes.   I also did a tray of slices that I did not soak in anything.  Honestly there didn't seem to be a huge difference besides maybe turning a bit more brown than the slices soaked in pineapple juice.

Place the apples on the trays.  Very important the slices don't overlap.  Anywhere they overlap, that part will not be as dry as the other half of the apple.  You don't want uneven drying.

You can also sprinkle the slices with cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever spices you like.  I chose not to this time around.

I labeled each tray so I could have a taste test at the end.

I used a NESCO Food Dehydrator.  This one has a fan.  I guess some of them don't?  It took about 6 hours to dry these apples.  A friend of mine has a dehydrator without a fan and it takes overnight to dry the apples on hers.  So there is a big difference in drying time.  Basically it is trial by error and keeping watch to get it just right.

When the apples are done, they will be flexible, not brittle, and not really sticky or wet.
I learned there are 2 ways to tell if the apples are done drying.  The first one is break the apple slice in half and if you can see beads of moisture, then the apple is not dry enough.  Another way is to immediately place some warm apple slices in a bag and look for condensation.  If you see condensation, then the apples are still too moist.  Put back on and dry for longer.  

I also noticed that I need to put the bigger size slices toward the inside of the tray because the fan seems to dry the center apples a little faster than the outside.  

Another batch of apples.

From the directions, it seemed like it was saying I could use the bottom base tray (the one without slots), to dry apples on too.  I don't know I will anymore because they always seem WAY less dry than the other trays. 

Once the apples are dried, store them in ziploc plastic bags.  You can put them in the freezer or just on your kitchen shelf for 6-9 months.  You can also rehydrate the apples to use in muffins, oatmeal, etc by soaking the apple slices in water anywhere from an hour to 2 hours.  Something to experiment with!

Taste testing results: 
 There were differences in the apple varieties.  I liked all of them for sure.  Even better is mixing them all up and putting them in a bag and getting a surprise.

The Fuji, Braeburn, Gala, Jonagold and Ruby Jon had a milder flavor.  The Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Gold Rush had a bit more kick which I liked.  I think my overall favorite was Pink Lady.  It had the most flavor of them all...a tiny bit of tart zing with a mild sweet background flavor.  My husband would say Fuji was his favorite.

No Dehydrator?  You can use your oven!!

If you don't have a dehydrator, I was reading online that you can also dry apples in the your oven.  The slices dried the fastest when you put them on a cookie sheet rack, rather than straight on the cookie sheet but both would work. (You will need to flip the slices if you put them on a cookie sheet)  Set the oven temperature to the lowest heat setting, put in your apples.  Some websites say to close the oven door, some say to leave it slightly open and blow a fan into the oven.  The fan method is said to dry the apples in 2-3 hours and the closed door method is said to take 10-20 hours.  Seems like a big difference, not sure what to believe.  But either way, it is nice to know you don't have to invest in a dehydrator if you don't want to!

If you are a dehydrating veteran and have anything you can teach us, or have a tip or a correction, please leave a comment, email or talk to us at the farm!