One of our family traditions is picking apples for homemade applesauce. This is something I’ve done since I was a kid, and one thing that I’m really excited to share with my own kids. Usually we do it in Indiana, but we were having trouble finding a way to fit it in. However, one of Evie’s new classmates’ families was looking for some picking partners, which was fortuitous for us: we got to meet some people from Evie’s new school, and we got to pick some apples!
I was kind of bummed that Sara couldn’t go with us, since by definition it’s a family thing. Nevertheless, it was a pretty nice day. Evie, Oliver and I had a great time at the orchard, followed by a picnic lunch and some time at a playground.
We went to the More Than Delicious orchard, which was pretty far from us, but would be a stone’s throw if you lived in the North West suburbs. It was better than I anticipated; bigger, with more varieties than I expected (or were advertised!), and not at all busy (although we were there early on a Friday morning). Apples are a lot more expensive in Chicago than in Indiana. They were charging $50 a bushel, when they’re only $26 a bushel back home. However, they did have “wind-fallen” apples, which are basically just a random assortment of whatever they picked up off the ground, for half price. This particular orchard doesn’t spray much, so there are some bug holes, etc., but for applesauce the wind-fallen ones were perfect. Even with the half-price apples though, we’re still producing applesauce at about the same price we could buy it from the store (and this is assuming our time is worthless!). So it’s definitely for the experience, not to save money!
But the experience is nothing to scoff at. And, as expected, Evie and Oliver loved eating the apples!
I think they ate 3 apiece at the orchard, but when we got home we couldn’t keep Oliver out of them. He even climbed up a chair and onto the table to find them! He liked to take one bite of each and then put them back.
Both Evie and Oliver were pretty keen to help with the applesauce. Evie was actually a big helper all day, both with the actual apples (she cleaned almost all of them by herself), and also with just staying occupied and letting Sara and I get the work done.
It’s a big job and we expected it to take all day. We got started as soon as possible after breakfast, but things were actually going quite smoothly. I guess we weren’t really expecting that both of us would be able to work on it. It still ended up taking 6 hours total, but a lot of that is at the end when you’re just waiting for the jars to process. In fact, it was so leisurely, Sara ended up baking muffins!
At the end of the day, we ended up canning 15 quarts, with another almost full jar in the fridge. Last year we had in the neighborhood of 22 jars, and it only lasted us until spring, even with trying to make it last as long as possible! So we could probably use more, however, now that we can mark this tradition off the list, maybe we’ll just end up supplementing from the store. On the other hand, nothing tastes quite as good as homemade!