birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...
07 January 2010
The bags of apples sat in our back hall for a few days, but on Sunday we got to work. And work it was. Instead of taking down the Christmas tree we made applesauce, thirty quarts of cooked, mushed and canned apples to eat during the coming months. We made almost twenty quarts earlier in the fall, and although we had already eaten (and given away) a few jars, when the last counter was wiped clean at the end of the day we had more than forty quarts of applesauce in the fruit cellar. But, it was an all-day-and-into-the-night affair, the last day of vacation spent coring apples, cutting them into quarters, cooking them in a big pot, pushing sauce through a chinois and reducing all the work to a handful of peels that wouldn't fit through the holes. A few jars broke in the water bath and I had to run a strainer through the water to remove the suspended sauce. All afternoon we kept the huge canning pot filled with water, topping it off when evaporation exacted its toll.
"Was it worth it?" my wife asked when everything was done and the kitchen restored to its non-industrial, ready-for-school-and-cereal-and-toast-and-lots-of-lunches-to-be-made-the-next-morning condition, and I wiped the floors with vinegar and water to remove the hunks and drips and gobs of cored, smushed, cooked apple that would have otherwise been ground in and sticky, and I replied, "Yes," because we won't buy a single jar of applesauce this year, and all our applesauce comes from a single-source orchard about four miles from our home, and I know the blend of apples that we used to make the sauce, and each time a lid is popped we know we're in for a treat. Yes, it was work and it took time. Yes, I scraped my knuckles running the cherry-wood pestle around and around the stainless steel chinois, and yes, I did more of it alone than I wanted to. And yes, too, to our remembory of making applesauce in years past and opening a jar for a pork chop dinner or a PB&J lunch, to reminding ourselves and our children that the farmers and workers who make our food work hard, to being mighty thankful that we live in a bountiful, apple-rich state (even if it isn't beautiful western New York) and finally, yes to the unsurpassed quality, texture, color and taste of home-canned applesauce, which will, for the entirety of this year, run thick in our veins.