Three and a half years ago we planted two apple trees. One is a Fuji and the other is a Granny Smith. This year, they actually produced enough apples that we had to do something rather than just try to eat them all. So we made applesauce. Last Saturday we started the first batch. After picking about 20 gallons worth of apples (I just stuck them in five gallon buckets), I took them in the house and began to cut them up. My wife and I cut each apple in half just to make sure there weren’t any bad spots. It also makes it easier to boil them to a state of acceptable softness. After cutting them, we would throw them in our largest kitchen pot and boil them for about 15 to 20 minutes. When the apples were soft–I checked this by piercing them with a fork–we would take them out of the boiling water and start putting them into our Back to Basics Food Strainer. This is a very handy tool if you don’t have one. The kids would take turns with the crank. As you turn the crank handle, the apples are forced through an ever narrowing cone and anything soft enough to squeeze through the fine mesh cone comes out in the form of applesauce. The seeds, skin, and other strange pieces all come out the end into a separate area. I fed this to the chickens. The applesauce was transferred into quart jars. Whenever we would get seven of the quart jars full of applesauce, we would process them for 30 minutes. I know, if you live at sea level you only have to process them for 20 minutes. But we live above sea level. About 4500 feet above sea level. And so we process our applesauce for 30 minutes. The first night, I spent about four hours working on our applesauce project. We got 14 quart jars of applesauce.
Yesterday, I came home from work early and started making more. By now, the process was old hat to me and I was able to really get a move on. In about 3 hours I picked all the rest of our apples and processed them from start to finish. The result–18 more quarts of applesauce. And a half a quart that just went right into the fridge for our eating enjoyment. The only disaster was when I was out picking the next to last bucket of apples. I went out barefoot–just like I always tell the kids not to do. As I was coming down off the ladder, I stepped on a bee. Dang stinger went right into my left foot about an inch or two below my toe line. I pulled the stinger out but I knew I was in for a bit of trouble. I tried to hurry and finish the last few runs of boiling and process apples. But in the end, I couldn’t quite finish it all on my own. My wife had to go out and pick the last half bucket of apples. I got all the applesauce bottled and started processing. I cleaned the counters, but I had to lean on my wife a bit to wash the Food Strainer. My foot was a bit swollen. In fact, by this time, I couldn’t move my toes very much because the bottom of my foot was so swollen. So I chewed a bit of plantain leaf to make it soft and put it on the spot of the sting. Then I held it on with a bag of ice. Within minutes, the pain went away. The swelling stopped getting worse. And the rest of the night was kind of awkward. It was like trying to walk around on a ping-pong ball. But at least it didn’t get any worse. I was amazed at how well the plantain worked. It took all the pain of the sting right away. A great chance to use an herbal remedy.
So I learned several things. First, two apple trees make a lot of apples. A lot of apples make a lot of applesauce. I can’t imagine how much we are going to have next year. The trees are still only about half as big as they will get. We may end up with close to 100 quarts of applesauce a year by the time the trees are producing at their max. Good stuff. I also learned that wearing shoes when working near the beehives is a good idea. And I learned that plantain really works. If you ever get a bee sting–give it a try. But if you are allergic–get to a doctor or hospital fast. This is a great remedy for the rest of us who aren’t highly allergic to bee stings.