Nature has blessed the Chilkat Valley with abundance this year. The sockeye fish run was better than expected, the blueberries were dripping off the bushes, the overloaded cherry trees had to be picked completely to keep the bears from destroying them, and the apple trees are now creating buckets full of applesauce on the owners’ yards.
Possibly in response to this, our library and the UAF Cooperative Extension agent had an “old fashioned canning” workshop. It was a basic lecture on jelly making from purchased juice, but there was plenty of new information thrown in to make it worth our time. What really amazed me was that the presenter made a batch of jelly in the one hour we were there on a hot plate! I always think of jelly making as an all day project.
The real payoff for us was meeting some local folks at the workshop who needed help picking their apples. They have two yellow transparent apple trees in their yard that are possibly older than the apple tree at the museum. The couple has way more apples than they can process, so many that they end up raking the yard and burning the rotting apples to keep up with them.
Of course we were happy to lend a hand. The next day we went over and gathered about ten gallons of bruised, but usable apples from the ground. Then we got up on ladders and picked several gallons of apples from high up in the trees. We also had a nice visit with the couple.
So, then the real work began. We backpacked the apples home and stored them in our shed, which never gets above 55° F. Saturday Aly and I began making applesauce. I set up an outdoor kitchen on the beach so we could enjoy the continuing good weather. We processed less than half of the apples. Cooking the sauce and heating the boiling water bath on the outdoor wood stove. We smelled thoroughly of beach fire smoke, but had 13 quarts of applesauce to show for it. I figure some apples will get used for pies, but there is at least another 10 quarts of sauce to be made. Mark’s talking about hard cider.
Thanks to this generous couple, there will be plenty of these summer-like days saved up in jars for winter. I’m sure my Grandmothers are smiling.