The mother of a visiting family at church last week told me of an apple orchard just over the Virginia state line that has started using organic farming practices. Previously I had been unable to find any organic orchards in North Carolina or just over the line in South Carolina. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to check Virginia. We're practically in the middle so it's six of one, half dozen of the other in terms of the drive for me. You do have to be a bit more careful when picking in an organically treated orchard - there are many more little multi-legged critters around. I had to back carefully away from one tree that had an enormous wasp nest (I'm allergic to stings from anything in the wasp/hornet family) hanging in it. It explains why there were so many apples left on that tree. :)
They had a great price on apples though - $10.00/bushel (for pick-your own). Did you get that? I haven't even been able to get that good a price on conventionally grown apples. The girls and I went up last week and picked 4 bushels. Three bushels of (mostly) Fuji, for applesauce, and one of Granny Smith, for apple pie filling.
Just shy of 200 lbs of apples.
Some of the sauce. Plain and cinnamon.
We've already made the three bushels into sauce and I've got a crockpot full of applesauce cooking down to turn into apple butter. Since the apples were organic I saved all the peels and most of the cores to turn into juice for making jelly. After cooking and draining, I collected almost 3 gallons of juice. I't's currently in the fridge and the sediment has settled to the bottom so I'll be able to pull the clearer juice off the top tomorrow and boil it down a bit more to concentrate it some before I make the jelly. I want it to be a bit sweeter to start with so I don't have to use as much added sugar. Since the Fuji's have a red blush (and we had a few red apples mixed in-Red Delicious and Braeburns I think) the juice is a beautiful pink color. I can't wait to see how the jelly turns out. We also need to make the Granny Smiths into pie filling, but I think I'll do the jelly first.
We'll have to go back and get at least a couple more bushels, but I didn't want to have a bunch sitting around that I didn't have time to get into jars; it's way too warm right now to store them for very long. I wish we had a cellar or something we could store them in for fresh eating. We live too far south for the garage to stay reliably cold enough, even through the winter for something like apples (it does fine for pecans though). It may partially be because the garage is on the south side of the house. A north facing garage may do better even around here.
On another note, one of my wonderful readers gave me a blog award.
I would love to pass it along to the requisite 15 blogs, but I don't routinely read that many blogs, so for those of you listed on my sidebar, consider yourself awarded. I really enjoy all of your blogs.
Do me a favor and pop on over and check out her blog: (Foxglove Spires). She does the cutest art projects with her little princess. They did an adorable, folded paper ladybug not long ago that I want to try and make with Beenie and T.Lynn.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!