Last year, when I first moved to the beautiful down-state Hudson Valley Region of NY, my two friends who have lived here before me, Corinne and Christine (two college friends), decided to go apple picking at the local orchard in Congers, NY. Since Corinne was visiting for the weekend (she now lives in VA),we made it into a fun weekend of baking an apple pie and going to Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain as well.
From what I remember about the Congers orchard, we had to rent a huge lacrosse-looking-like stick to get our apples down, and I think we paid more money than we wanted to just for the apples alone. It was also very crowded that October weekend (at both the orchard and Bear Mountain), probably because of the unusually warm weather. They also didn't offer a wide variety of apples. They had an entire part of the orchard closed off where another type of apple was waiting to be picked. I guess they wanted every single red apple picked before letting their customers get to the Golden Delicious or whatever they were on the other side. I didn't like that. I didn't want to go back to this place, even though it was so close to my new home.
This past Monday was Columbus day, and since my kids at After-School had off, I had off, and since my husband is a federal employee, he had off as well. I wanted to go apple picking, because it's a fun thing to do in the early fall. My husband and I had gone to an orchard either in 2010 or 2009 before we were married in NY state to pick apples. I can't remember the name of the place, but I remember it being far (plus we lived right by Sandy Hook at the Jersey shore, at that time), and not very good. For one thing, the orchard was on a mountain, and we had to park on a very hilly surface and right next to the trees! Everybody was parked next to the apple trees. It was chaotic getting in and out of there. However we did stop at a great little ice creamery on the way back home which was only a few miles from that orchard.
This year we looked up different orchards about 45 minutes north of us in Warwick, NY. I think that's where the chaotic one is too, because there are many orchards in Warwick. We went to the Applewood Orchards and Winery. They had the best price for picking apples. When we got there we had to hop on a tractor to get to where the apples were. It had rained a lot the night before, so everything was really muddy. He took us to a spot where we could pick both apples (of many varieties) and pumpkins. The above picture was taken from my phone of one of the apple trees. I don't know what kind those are, but if you look at the website here, they break down what kind of apples they grow and when they are good for picking.
Now for what I was really going to blog about: Applesauce! I was looking for a recipe on-line for a no-sugar added applesauce. Google presented me with this recipe from Whipped The Blog.
Here's what you'll need:
8-10 medium apples (any kind, make it a variety, that's what I did) peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I didn't use just cinnamon I used Penzeys' Apple Pie Spice, which has 2 kinds of cinnamon in it, as well as nutmeg, mace, and cloves.)
1/2 teaspoon salt.
Peel, core, and cut apples into 1-inch chunks. Put them in a sauce pan and add the lemon juice. Stir them around. Add the water, cinnamon, and salt. Stir them around again. Put the pan on high heat with out the cover on until it bowls.
Lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. For a smoother applesauce, use a potato masher to mash the large chunks.
I think this recipe made about 6-8 cups of applesauce. This is a guestimate, since I didn't measure it out.