A Bushel of Apples

We got them in late August, or maybe early September: a bushel of apples from a semi-local farm. A big heavy bag full of them, all spotty and not shiny, not at all like store apples. They were also a tad under-ripe, which didn’t really inspire me, though I went ahead anyway and made a batch of applesauce.

I learned how few jars come from so many apples. My first batch, I sliced, cored and de-spotted what felt like a bushel of those apples (it was barely a fraction), only to end up with four jars of applesauce. Four jars! All that work!

Well, October came, and with it a really bad cold. I was out for well over a week, with barely enough energy to keep meals on the table and clean clothes in the drawers. My apples languished in their cool corner in the basement.

When the cold cleared, I visited them again, delighted to find only a few rotten ones, and the rest more apple-smelling. Ah, finally ripe! So one day I made another batch. Again, the slicing and coring, the de-spotting and fishing out of skins. Again, four jars.

I learned how much work it is.

I learned and I got smart. I asked my mom, if she had some spare time, could she come over and help me take care of my bushel of apples. And one day this week, the last week of November, she did.

My mom came over, and we got down to business. My little guy washed, my mom peeled, my daughter quartered and I sliced. On and on it went, though in reality it only took one intense hour, until, finally, we were done! The bag was empty! We had conquered the bushel!

And at the end of this batch, I pulled out nine shining jars.

I learned that a bushel is a crazy lot of apples. I learned that canning bees are an absolute necessity when dealing with this quantity of food. I also got a little bit closer to what it must have been like in those days when all our food came from our own lands and our own hands.

Thanks mom! Can’t wait for next year.

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