Fall Apple Madness: Harvesting and Processing Fall Apples

| 9/9/2016 10:29:00 AM

Tags: food preservation, apples, harvesting, fruit trees, drying, canning, Pacific Northwest, Charlyn Ellis, Oregon,


Fruit trees are an excellent addition to any homestead, even a small urban lot. We have several: a 'Macintosh' apple, an early summer plum, a huge and ancient fig, a new persimmon, and a yellow plum that is too big to harvest. There are also two hazelnut trees on the back lot line. They provide shade in summer, leaf mulch in winter, bee forage in spring — and fruit in the fall.

Dealing with the fruit, especially the apple, which is the largest tree, can be a challenge. We eat it fresh, give it away to friends — who also have fruit trees! — make pies and cakes, and then work to preserve the harvest for the winter.

I slice and dry five or six rounds of 'Macintosh' apples in early August. We really like the dried fruit because of its flexibility. We can take it to work, on the trail, and in the car. We can plump it up with boiling water for a compote with yogurt or add it to oatmeal. It is better than winter’s supply  “fresh” fruit that has been shipped across the equator or stored for months.

Drying Fruit for Fall Harvest Products

I am experimenting with a bit of “pre-drying” to reduce electricity consumption. I’ve laid it on the roof of my van and parked on a sunny street, but there was not enough air flow. I laid the fruit on trays, wrapped them in cheese cloth, and set them on a ladder in the sun, which worked better. We are looking at plans for a home made solar dryer for next year. Dried apples reduce the pile by a bucket or so.

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