Tuesday, November 1, 2022

November 1st: Journal

A dark morning suggested that we might again have rain. The sky cleared toward noon, the air mild and damp.
After a hearty late breakfast I lugged upstairs the half bushel of Rome apples purchased last week, rummaged out my remaining pint jars. 
Canning applesauce is a tedious and rather messy process.
Last time I did this was when we lived at our Amish-built farmhouse with its big kitchen and massive wood-fired range. On a cool autumn day I could have several large kettles of apples stewing gently on the back burners of the stove while those already cooked down, put through the Foley mill and into jars boiled away in the canner placed on the hot spot over the firebox. 

During many seasons in our native Vermont, apples were available inexpensively in the next town where a large cold storage facility and apple packaging plant served the region's many orchards.
We could pop in, ask for a bushel or two of MacIntosh, Cortlands or Red Delicious--and for a mere few dollars we had fresh applesauce, pies, crisps or cobblers. 

Grampa Mac was partial to Northern Spy apples as winter keepers.
Several bushels were purchased and stored in their wooden boxes in a north-east room of the old farmhouse--one of the rooms 'shut off' during the winter months. 
As night time temperatures plunged into the minus zero range, the boxes were tenderly snugged under old horse blankets. 
A favorite treat, stopping at Grampa's after school, was the ritual of several apples brought in from the cold north room, peeled and quartered with his jackknife and enjoyed with a stack of Royal Lunch crackers and wedge of cheddar cheese.

Our Beachy neighbors keep some apples in their cooler through early winter, but locally grown apples--southern apples!--don't have the crisp sweet/tart flavor or the keeping qualities of northern apples. 
As for supermarket apples--pricey and often disappointing.

I had nearly decided not to mess with applesauce in my present small kitchen where canning on the electric stove is the only option.
Homemade applesauce is good with pancakes or French toast for a leisurely breakfast or on a chilly winter night as 'breakfast for supper' with the addition of turkey sausage or turkey bacon.
Yield for the half bushel of apples [$12] and hours of labor: 14 pint jars, 1 quart jar and about 2 quarts saved out to eat fresh. 
Stove burners now shut off and jars sitting in the hot water bath kettles. I peeked in, too tired to haul them all out and cover with layers of towels. Some jars have yet to seal--always a concern. 

The lovely pointed bud on Samaritan Jo is unfolding.

I am delighted with the rebloom of this clematis. It bloomed heavily in spring, then the vine looked shabby through the summer. 

A few late roses--surely the last from the pale peach shrub rose--the Double-Red Knock-outs are always the last to succumb to cold weather.
I was downstairs last evening experimenting with a quilt block pattern and a new 'tool' when I heard clattering overhead in the main room.
J. stuck his head round the stairwell to inform me that Rosie-cat had pulled flowers from the jugs, overturning one and creating a flood of water. 
I seem always to have at least one resident feline who is compelled to do that!

Sunday's red sunrise which heralded a day of gentle rain. 
Mornings are slow, still half dark when I raise the blinds; I need a light on in the kitchen to measure water for coffee, to set out mugs and cream. 
When I open the front door, cats crowd onto the small porch, trying to decide if the weather suits them.
There have been days when a morning wood fire is a comfort, others when we turn on the electric heat for a few hours.
November is always a month of transitions--putting away summer clothing, rearranging closet shelves so that warm sweaters and shirts are handy. 
Weather that calls for comfort food--homemade soups, a mug of hot tea mid-afternoon.
Time for a flannel blanket layered under my quilt, a shabby fleece throw spread for the cats at the foot of the bed. 
Still time to enjoy puttering outdoors on a sunny afternoon--now that I have virtuously canned the applesauce!

A final note for the day: energy summoned to unload the canners.
All jars sealed--the last one with a resounding 'pop' as I lifted the lid of the kettle.
Time to check the cats' water bowls, swallow an 'Aleve' for my aching bones and toddle off to bed.



  1. A timely post - I am surrounded by apples from Pam - Bramley Cookers - and am going to bottle some. I've only bottled once before and then couldn't get into the jars afterwards, so that was a bit of a waste of time, ingredients and jars! I've just purchased new jars in two different sizes, so let's see how I get on today. Can't get started until the chap has been to clean the carpets though.

    1. Jennie; With all the warnings about possible shortages it seemed prudent to bestir myself and put up applesauce. I gave away dozens of quart jars several years ago when I realized that we didn't make best use of food in that size container. Canning supplies were hard to find and very pricey in 2021--much more available this season, but not cheap. I've emptied out some jars of unappreciated jams and pickles that could be described as 'out of date.' We went a bit crazy with 'canning' those first years in Kentucky after more than a decade living where gardens were impossible.

  2. Well, that's quite understandable. Wyoming wasn't welcoming to gardeners - both weather and deer wasn't it? I've just decanted a pint and a half of blackberry and apple juice for jelly into the maslin pan, am going to go for a windy walk, and then cook it up and put into jars as Christmas gifts.

    I think during Lockdown(s) prices of everything went up and I haven't seen them drop down appreciably. Cement and timber went sky high too - well, all building supplies did.

    Looks like you are sorted for the winter anyway.

  3. I think you made good use of the apples and had a very productive day! I do love applesauce but have never made up my own. Even though Washington state is one of the top producers of apples, they grow on the eastern side of the mountains, which requires a long trip over the mountains, so I have to be content with the high prices on this side. Your clematis seems to love the cool temps and how nice to get some late blooms from the roses, too. I still have geraniums blooming and one single rosebud, but night temps are getting down to the 30's, so a frost is imminent. You have lovely sunsets and I had to laugh at the knocked over vase of flowers. Cats are so mischievous. It sounds warm and cozy there and ready for winter. x K

    1. Karen; I remember years ago when my husband was a long-haul trucker going with him to Yakima, WA and bringing a load of apples back to NY. We, of course, ate apples while there and loyally declared they weren't quite as good as New England crops.
      I have a white geranium still outside--it sulked through the heat and has now revived with a good show of blossoms. Trying to decide if I have room inside to over-winter it.
      The on-going presence of house cats definitely dictates my decorating style!