Apples Toward Autumn

Deciduous Tree Leaves in Late Summer

Apples exercise hegemony over everything of late.

Yesterday our orchard’s chief apple officer cut a slice of Kidd’s Orange Red to sample and it’s been hard to think of anything else. A cross between Delicious and Cox’s Orange Pippin, developed in New Zealand by James Hutton Kidd, and introduced in 1924, the flavor is unbelievable. I’d say it was delicious but that would be an apple joke, favoring one parent over the other.

The orchard is in peak production. I picked one or two of each from the cooler to bring home: Gala, Crimson Crisp, Crimson Gold, Jonathan, Snow Sweet, and Jonafree. There are more than a dozen other varieties ripe for picking from the trees.

“Heat early in the growing season built sugar,” our chief apple officer told the Iowa City Press Citizen. “Sunny days with cold nights —like those in the past month — brought color and flavor.”

The Crimson Crisp apples are the best I’ve tasted this year. Food is about flavor as much as sustenance, isn’t it?

In our backyard the Red Delicious tree is ready to pick. This is a baseline commodity fruit apple for us. Like many home gardeners I make apple dishes from what is available. The fruit is smaller than usual because there are so many apples on each branch. There are plenty to make juice for drinking and apple cider vinegar, apple sauce, baked goods, dried apples and frozen slices for winter. Once they are picked, a mad rush to preserve them begins — I’m putting it off until Wednesday to work on a couple of other projects.

I took two bushels of kale leaves to the orchard on Sunday. I was surprised how many co-workers had never seen scarlet kale. Likewise my large leaves are much different from the bundles of small ones available in the grocery store. I asked one of my colleagues to compost whatever was left at the end of the shift. She said she wouldn’t but would take any remainders home. A gardener is always looking for outlets for kale.

In the garden, late pepper growth is happening. There should be plenty more Cayenne and Red Rocket hot peppers, some jalapenos, and maybe a few sweet bell peppers. The Fairy Tale eggplant is producing and there will be a few more large tomatoes. Some carrots survive but not enough to make a dish of them.

I took two days vacation at the home, farm and auto supply store next week to work in the yard. Garden cleanup, tree work and much needed mowing and trimming are on the agenda… also apple picking and processing. Here’s hoping the rain holds back those two days.

I’d move on to other work now except I can’t escape the complex flavor of apples. It dominates my waking hours and carries over while I sleep. As leaves on deciduous trees begin to turn I embrace the apple season, holding on until the last fruit falls, the last leaf turns to compost — sustaining a life in a turbulent world.