Howd’ya like dem apples?


Mere weeks ago, I wrote about the things I would miss in New York State. One of those things was apples.

It turns out there are more than enough locally growing apples in Michigan to fill 30 million bushels, up from 1,000 percent of last year’s miserable crop.

Some of them are growing, and falling,  right in my back yard.

When my husband bought this house after he got my remote inspection and approval, each week before we moved in he would drive by and take pictures to send to me. All over the property he photographed these beautiful flowering trees. He texted them back to me in Rochester and I was elated.

By the middle of the summer, these pink, white and red blossoms gave way to apples.

Lots of them.

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Kerplink. They fall on our deck.

Kerplank. They attract wasps.

Kerplunk. They rot all over our lawn.

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My husband cursed the trees. Swore up and down that they were nasty crab apples that were useless and sour, the tree ugly and a nuisance.

“Those trees are going to have to come down!”

And, as if to avenge itself, the tree over the deck promptly dropped two apples, right where he stood.

(Ya know that scene in the Wizard of Oz? Yeah, just like that.)

Angrily, he threw one back on the lawn.

Though I felt his pain, I was not completely convinced that these apples were useless crab apples. They were bigger and redder than crab apples. I picked up an apple from the deck, checked it for worms (there were none), and took a bite.

It was tart. But crisp. And the trees, perhaps they were worth saving. So I started investigating.

As it turns out, before our development was a development, it was an apple orchard. This is why the main street is called Apple Valley Lane.

(Don’t you love how suburban developments are named for the things that were destroyed when they were built? Like: The Oaks. Whispering Pines. Rolling Meadows.)

Many of my neighbors also have apple trees that were the original trees leftover from the orchard. Many of my neighbors have been eating the apples off their trees for years.  They might be a bit tart for eating raw, but they said they make great pies and sauce.

 One of our neighbors, who said he grew up on a kibbutz in Israel, said to get better tasting apples, the trees needed to be pruned and shaped into a short, squat bowl.

Short my trees are not. In fact, most of the best looking apples are nearly 50 feet over my head.

But I’m not ready to part with the idea of home-grown apples from my own trees. Determined to get at least the lowest hanging fruit, my son and I made our own homemade apple picking pole we learned how to build on YouTube.

We took a broomstick, a small plastic milk container and lo and behold, we had our own apple picker:

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Then, we headed to our orchard with a ladder.

But what about the wasps?

“Don’t worry, mom, those wasps are drunk,” reassured my son.

Drunk?

“Yes, they have sucked up so much rotting apple juice, that they are sluggish and happy and less likely to sting you. I learned that in science in the sixth grade.”

See? My son’s education at Twelve Corners Middle School in Brighton is already paying off! Sure enough, if we stepped carefully enough, the wasps just got out of our way and we were left  (this time) unharmed by their stingers.

He then climbed the ladder and used the fruit picker to get some pretty nice specimens:

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Some apples inadvertently fell to the ground but I was able to track them and add them to our basket:
20130823_134256Overall, I was able to pick enough apples, cut away bruised and rotted areas, and made three jars of apple sauce. And yes, my trees can be saved! This winter, they will be pruned to a manageable size and height to yield a better crop. This city girl from the Big Apple is indeed going to have her own locally-grown fruit.  Come by next year and I’ll make you a pie.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a public relations professional and reporter -- and always thought I would live in the New York Metro area - before my husband took a job in Rochester, New York. Most in Metro New York can't find Rochester on a map,and neither could I before we moved. I am now a columnist and a freelance writer for Rochester's only daily newspaper, the Democrat & Chronicle. I also am passionate about gardening, fitness and most of all, Jewish education and Israel Advocacy. Here's my perspective on Western New York living - the good, the bad, and the snowy.

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  1. Practical Pantry: How To Harvest Free Apples | Crossroads Homestead - September 2, 2013

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