Crab apple picking

Catching up on stuff that I intended to post about yesterday…

I finally got a chance to pick some crab apples.

I had help.

It was starting to get pretty late in the season to pick these. A lot were already on the ground, other had signs of being eaten by birds. There were some I could not safely reach, even with the ladder, but that’s okay. The birds will enjoy them.

The one tree that was giving larger, sweeter apples this year resulted in about 2 1/2 gallon buckets of apples.

There is one other tree that had larger, sweeter apples last year. Though the apples are much smaller this year, there are lots of them. When I do my rounds, I have been tasting them. As the season progressed, the apples on this tree did start to develop that sweet-tart taste crab apples are known for. There are a couple of other trees with lots of apples on them, but they are pretty… unpleasant.

I decided to pick some from the one tree with good apples. Just a bucket full, I figured. So I dragged the ladder over and went to set it up under the most apple laden branches.

There… weren’t any?

These apples have been getting a very deep red as the season progressed, and there had been lots of them, but suddenly, there were hardly any at all.

Of course, my first thought was to check the ground, to see how many had fallen, but the ground was clear of fallen apples.

I finally went to pick some. Most were already too far gone and starting to rot at the stems. This is all I got.

Barely enough to cover the bottom of the bucket!

You can see one with a hole at the stem that I accidentally picked. Most of the remaining apples I saw had much larger holes like that.

I am guessing that the apples were eaten by something. I’m good with feeding critters. What I found interesting, though, is that it was just this one tree. There are trees on either side of this one that are full of apples, and I can see apples on the ground beneath them.

I guess whatever has been eating the apples from this tree found it tastier than the others, too!

Anyhow.

For the larger amount of apples, I am planning to make jelly. For the smaller amount, I’m going to try making apple cider vinegar.

We shall see how they turn out! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Chokecherries, ready to freeze

The chokecherries I picked this morning are all done for now.

Nice to see my colander so full of berries! All clean and ready to pick over.

I got all the stems (of course, I found one I missed after I took this photo!) and the ones that were damages or whatever. I filled two 9×13 jelly roll pans with berries when I was done.

They are now in the deep freeze, to be transferred to freezer bags when they are frozen solid. After that, they can wait until we decide how we want to use them this year. 🙂 The freezing will help them release their juices later, too.

So… what shall we make? More chokecherry vinegar? Or try a jam or jelly this year?

The Re-Farmer

Chokecherries

This morning, I grabbed a bucket and checked out the chokecherry trees.

After my last visit with them, I thought I might be too late for the one tree; either they would be over ripe, or the birds would have got them by now.

Happily, there were plenty of perfectly ripe (very dusty!) berries!

I was even able to pull branches down and get lots from the top.

This is how much I got, from just the one tree – minus the many that went flying or rolling out of my hands onto the ground! 😀

Which is quite noticeably better than last year.

20180802.bucket.of.chokecherries

That was all what I was able to pick from both trees near the road, last year.

This year, that second tree is not doing as well.

There were very few berries, they were really small, and not consistently ripening.

I left this tree alone.

Then I went for the tree closer to the house. The berries there were much plumper, but the berries were also mostly out of reach. The lower branches don’t get anywhere near as much light, so there were fewer berries and they were redder. My daughter was able to come out and help by pulling the upper branches down so I could reach to pick them.

Check them out!

While there were a fewer berries, they had almost as much volume as the berries from the other tree.

Yes, they are also a lot more red and not as ripe. This is okay, as the less ripe berries have more natural pectin.

As I write this, the chokecherries are sitting in cold water to get rid of any critters that might have come along for the ride, and get the bulk of the dust from the gravel road off. Later, I will give them a thorough wash in cold water, then pick them over to get rid of stems and any messed up berries.

Last year, we made chokecherry vinegar, to use mostly as a drink mix, with our berries. I have not yet decided if we will do the same thing this year. I’ll go through some ideas with my daughters later. I rather like the idea of making a jelly, but that vinegar was really good!

At the very least, we’ll set some aside to freeze and use to make chokecherry mead at some point. 🙂

The Re-Farmer