An apple a day

 Last year, local fruit was a specialty item.  A hard frost killed nearly all the spring blossoms.  The only place I could find apples was at a commercial orchard.  They estimated that 90 percent of their crop had been killed by the frost.

In an effort to make up for the low production last year, apples and other fruit trees put a surge of energy into propagating this year.  I was warned of of over production this spring by a Kansas City “growers” email network.  Thin your trees to avoid stress from the weight of too much fruit, the email said.  Also, thin them to avoid a loss of flavor and size of fruit as the tree spreads its resources to all the fruit. Finally, thin to avoid a heavy year–light year bearing cycle.

We decided not to thin any of the dozen apricots from our own trees (most were still too young to bear any fruit).

Since ours are not bearing yet, a neighbor let us come pick some apples from his tree today. He’d never seen it so loaded.  I have never seen an apple tree so heavy with fruit either.  Apparently, others had already been over to pick some apples, but I could hardly tell.  The yellow gems dripped from the branches like oversized dew droplets, ready to roll into each other and fall to the ground.

Although the apples were so abundant that nearly every branch required extra support, they were not lacking in flavor or size.  We’ll eat as many as we can fresh, I’ll can some into applesauce, dry others and finally try my hand at Apple Cider Vinegar.

I was always intimidated by vinegar.  I wanted to make it, but the directions for it in Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living (my favorite resource book for back to the land food skills) seemed so complicated.   No one else was making it that I knew of.

Then, Jess came along, threw waste plums parts (bruises, pits, cracks, rotting pieces…) that I would have composted, into a jar.  We covered it with a cloth to keep out fruit flies and other critters.  It separated into liquid and plum “solids”.   Maybe a week later, we strained off the solids and were left with …. VINEGAR!

Could it really be that easy?  And made from otherwise useless materials?  Why is no one else doing this??  I next tried peach– same wonderful outcome– using just as unpleasant starting materials.

So, now for apples.  Both the plums and peaches were excessively juicy and created their own liquid without any help from me.  Apples on the other hand are considerably drier.  I don’t have a press to make cider and I’m not going to put all those apples through a juicer.  Maybe a little whirl in the blender will do the trick.  At any rate, I have plenty to experiment with.

And, we’ll be eating lots of apples.  A good thing too.  With all this soldering for the solar cells, I’m sure I’m absorbing something unpleasant.  Turns out pectin is good for removing heavy metals (and other unwanted materials) from the body.  And apples are high in pectin.  I guess an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.  Attaching a terminal strip to the back of a solar panel.


  1. Richard Schulte

    awesomeness! yea our apple tree here in columbia was outrageous. good to know we need to thin it.

    the vinegar is very exciting. youll be able to use that for so much, from cooking to cleaning (mixed with water makes a great window cleaner and soaking surface cleaner). Makes me want to make vinegar, just to be able to do it.

    I think it’d be a fun OSE MidMO project to start a soy fermentation club and buy bulk local organic soy and make tofu and tempeh and sell it at market. We know of a certified kitchen that would let us prepare it.
    We are actually starting up a skillshare too, as an OSEMidMO project. We thought it would be an excellent way to access the assets of a community. Someone is already taking a skill inventory for their neighborhood, so we will build off of that and train people to do the same in their own neighborhood. Then people can set up their own workshops, projects and even micro-businesses based on the info available. This way we can access a cohort of machinists and designers in the area for the GVCS projects. We might rent out a garage or set up a shop @ kats house.

    Also, I have been doing a lot of permaculture research, and i think that the solution for massive, low maintenance food production might just lie in the good ole three sisters, plus brothers and cousins.
    Alfalfa, amaranth, tobacco (ward off them bugs and animals!), cotton, etc interspersed among the three and also companion plantings of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, alluviums, carrots, beets, radishes, etc. In different sections, all using a variety of heirloom seeds. It would be easy and fun to crowdsource for some heirloom seeds, if not get donations from seed providers in the area. After this, you can build a Factor E living seed bank. Also a few acres of intercropped grain with wild buffers and other farmscaping techniques, like bat boxes and bird houses will help as well. I am doing research for a large milpa style three sisters project here in columbia, so i will be sure to set aside some stuff for you. Also, I am researching the depth of indigenous farming techniques in our bioregion via the archaeological and ethnographic record. Sunflowers are a key to the region, in some ways the 4th sister, but im trying to find out why…
    Also, A guy i met at OSN whos a professional permaculture designer reccomended a kind of berming/terracing project that we could do with a ditch witch PTO attachment and a tamping barrel in the spring, that would prevent soil erosion, capture good soil sediment, and capture moisture. Also, if we dig out flat areas in the hill the right way we can kind of terrace it and establish ponds and whatnot.

  2. Sam Rose

    Hey people have bee making vinegar that way for *long* time. I think if you add some sugar, you can get wine…

  3. Richard Schulte

    yea, vinegar goes way back. archaeologists have traced it back as far as 3000 BC, and even then it probably goes back way further than that. its extremely useful too, you can use it for so much, cooking, medicine, cleaning, etc. its one of those little tidbits of traditional wisdom..

    i think what brittany is saying is that simple methods of vinegar production are not very readily available, and if other people are doing it then she hasnt heard. knowledge transfer is very important, theres a lot of good wisdom out there that isnt being disseminated like it used to, through family, friends and communities…