Monday, September 29, 2008

A is for Apple

Yesterday we had friends over to pick and press apples. This is the second year we've done this. We have a few apple trees and friends also brought some. Our friend Barbara Taylor owns South Island Properties, a property management company, and on Friday Jim and I joined Barb and Eric at a vacant property with 4 huge old apple trees and picked for a couple of hours.
There were about 12 of us on Saturday picking and pressing. Jim and I purchased an apple press off Craig's List earlier this summer. We bought it from a guy whose dad had made it. It has a motor on it and this made the pressing go a lot faster than last year when our friends and neighbors Marcia and Andy Statz brought their antique press up. I had been looking for a press ever since we did this last year and wanted one like the Statzes because it is just so cool looking. This motorized one was the first I came across I liked, and I'm glad we ended up with a motorized one this year.

Statzes' cool press we used last year

We spend four and a half hours pressing I don't know how many bushels of apples. We ended up with 33 pretty large containers of juice. Barbara and I had been saving empty juice containers all year, but she beat me out by a mile. We didn't even have to use the ones I had saved.

We started off at 2 pm picking apples off our trees. After loading the tractor cart with drinks and appetizers, Jim drove it down near the trees. It was very Martha Stewart-ish! We had a blue cheese dip with homemade french bread, mango & bean salsa, apple salsa, and candy corn.

The men were chomping at the bit to get back to try out the apple press. They were intrigued! We broke into work stations with Barb and Shelley in the kitchen sterilizing the containers, Jill and Jesse washing and cutting the apples, and the husbands all standing around admiring the press. We got into the swing of things, figured out the most effective process (stopped cutting the apples first for one thing), and things went smoothly.

There was a small bit of excitement about halfway through. Andy came into the kitchen where Shelley and I were sneaking in a sitting break to ask if we had any bolts as one had worked its way loose and gotten lost. Andy and Jim went off to fix that problem and a short while later Shelley and I heard a loud metal pinging noise, followed by much excited chatter, and then another very loud metal banging noise. I thought the press had come apart at the seams mid operation and was exploding in all directions, piercing everyone with sharp metal projectiles in the process.

Things seemed to calm down and there were no loud "Call 911" shouts, so Shelley and I ventured out to see what had happened. A piece of the tire jack, which was used to press the juice from the shredded apples, had slipped loose, soared about 20 feet into the air, and come crashing down hitting the other end of the press, missing Kelsey's hand by a breath. It left quite a dent where it hit, so Kelsey must have had her guardian angel watching over her. Typical of a 16-year-old, she was not phased in the least.

At 6:30 Kelsey tossed the last apple into the press and we topped off the 33rd, and last, bottle.

The juice is delicious. The variety of apples produced a tasty drink and it is a superior vintage to last year's, in my humble opinion.  It tastes like liquid apples--duh--and is just delicious.

We retired inside for a potluck featuring sweet onion sausages from our local farmer's market with homemade mustard and my cousin Joe's bottled BBQ sauce, spinach salad, broccoli apple salad, smoked cheddar and apple au gratin potatoes, baked apple pie beans (are you beginning to see a theme?), taboulli, apple cookies, and apple cheesecake. All washed down with--you guessed it--wine!

The new press draws admiring looks.

The apples get washed…


...go into the crusher…

… and then get pressed. (Only strong macho men need apply for this job.)

A year's worth of saved bottles.


Long-time friend Mike came down from Orcas Island for the day.

The last apple goes into the hopper.  Kelsey's hands were stained yellow at the end of the day.  What a trooper!

Four and a half hours later after we started!


 The hard-working and thirsty crew.

Thought I would start a blog instead of sending out emails all the time! I grew up in San Mateo, California; lived in Burlingame, Lake Tahoe, and Redwood City; then married a man who was born in Pasadena and grew up in Menlo Park and Atherton. We lived in Redwood City until the mid '90s when we bought his parents' house in Atherton and lived there until 2001. In 2001 we had the chance to relocate to the Seattle area with his company. We visited Whidbey Island, fell in love, and moved here in August of 2001. When we moved here, Jeff was entering 8th grade, Tim 6th grade, and Jesse 4th grade. Jesse hated moving (but has since gotten over it), Tim was 50/50 but took on the adventure eagerly, and Jeff couldn't wait to move and has never looked back. We brought our 6-month-old yellow lab, McKenzie with us. Three years ago we added Tag, a 5-year-old golden retriever, who sadly died of cancer in October 2007. In September of 2007 we added a 1-year-old yellow tabby mouser, Charlie, who more than earns his keep, and in June of 2008 Buddy, a hopelessly neurotic 5-month-old golden retriever came to live. There will be more on all these sons and daughter as time goes on...