When we purchased our land in 2020 we started to note an old over grown apple tree here and there, we are still unsure if they were purposely planted or planted by an animal. We do suspect that some of them were planted purposefully around a low area because there are several. Our goal with these trees is to slowly prune and feed them to see if we can get them back into production. With the branches we prune we will make chips for the smoker. Now I do have three apple trees here at our suburban homestead, two I planted and one was here when we moved in. I also planted 11 new apple trees in an orchard this spring (with some mulberry, pear, berries and grapes).
You may wonder how I know they are apple trees. It seems a little overwhelming to start to note these things and learn to identify the wild things within the forests and meadows. I have spent enough time however climbing and pruning my own apple trees to notice the leaves, the bark, the way the branches are shaped to identify the wild apple in a forest even if it produces no fruit. I suggest you start a photo journal, a nature journal with notes and drawings or bring some books with you to help. As I noted in my last blog post there are many options available in the form of phone apps for identification. In general it is easiest to identify trees when the leaves are on.
Why so many apples?
The are such a versatile fruit providing jam, jelly, vinegar, cider, juice, fresh fruit, canned fruit, feed for animals, feed for wildlife, flowers for pollinators, wood for smoking, pectin for jams and so on. They grow in a large area of the world under varying conditions. So because of all this to me they make a perfect homestead addition and they are worth the effort to nurse and bring back into production in the wild places they often are often found.
Harvest on the homestead!
I have a glut of apples currently from our three producing trees. I have several photos to share of the fun I’ve had making them into foods we will consume in one way or another.
Apple Cider Vinegar- If you have never had homemade vinegar, you are in for a treat. It is quite easy to make, it just takes time and a good covering. My first batch several years ago was going great until I discovered fruit flies had made it though the cheese cloth. There isn’t much more disgusting than having your vinegar full of maggots. The chickens had a treat that day! But I was so disappointed. I now use a coffee filter or paper towel, well secured with a rubber band!
Water kefir is something many folks are unfamiliar with. They are ofter familiar with milk kefir, which has different bacteria and grains (kefir grains are the little tiny organism used to ferment the sugar water or the milk). With water kefir I would add apples at the second ferment after the first is complete.
Apple Zucchini Crisp
I am pretty certain you are all aware what this is. It is yumminess! My recipe here.
I am also certain you are aware what this is!
Ahhh the staple of the apple tree. One of our favorites. You can add some cinnamon, some nutmeg, some brown sugar, some maple syrup, or nothing! The choice is yours! Of course apple varieties will make the flavor vary greatly as well as the texture and sweetness.
What I’m working on…
We don’t have a press but the husband has some ideas. Speaking of the husband, you will hear him referred to on the blog, vlog, and podcast. He prefers to remain off camera but his brilliant ingenuity and handyman skills will play a large roll in things like making cider without a typical cider press.
I just haven’t had time to try my hand at this yet. I have apple cider vinegar from last years batch of apples I made and will make some probably this week. Shrub is a fermented drink and can be made from several different types of fruits, herbs and flower combinations. It has many health benefits all of which depend upon what you put into the jar when you make it.
What is pectin and why would it be important enough to mention?
Pectin is a fiber found in fruits and it is used as a thickener in making jellies and jams, without it your product wont gel. Anyway in the month of August I was so busy with work that I didn’t get a chance to try my hand at making some. August is a better time to do this because green apples make better pectin. Now I can still make it but ripe fruit has less pectin. We also don’t make a lot of jams and jellies since we don’t eat a lot of sugar. That said, pectin has medicinal uses as well so I may just give it a whirl still. I do have 4, 5 gallon buckets of apples in the basement.
So help cultivate the wild things in your life like wild apple trees, help them grow where they are planted.
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