I cannot believe it’s already October! I know we’ve been in a pandemic for most of the year, but 2020 has flown by. Little Miss has started förskola already and while it pulls on my heartstrings a little every morning when I drop her off, I don’t know how I would keep up with my studies, my freelance work, and everything else without those three hours every morning. It helps of course that she greets her teachers with a big smile and outstretched arms. Well, honestly, it hurts a bit, but the unselfish part of me is glad that she feels comfortable there, and it’s better than leaving a crying baby.
And one of the positives of us being apart is that it has helped me to truly appreciate the time that we are together. Being without a car, we have a roughly half hour walk there and back again, and we have used these as nature walks, enjoying the changing seasons, and seeing how all the leaves are changing. I try and share with her my knowledge of the different types of trees and plants, what they are called and how they are used, but a lot of these northern European trees are foreign to me and my sub-tropical upbringing so it’s been a learning experience for me too!
Our garden is mostly done for the season (though the second wave of sugar peas are still growing and there’s a handful of tomatoes still waiting to turn red), but now is the time that a lot of the natural harvests are coming out! Swedes are flocking to their chanterelle spots, rowan berries pop with a red brilliance against the gray autumn sky, and the chestnuts and acorns are falling with abundance.
And the apple trees! In all the places I lived in the US, “apple picking” was an event that included a drive to someplace cooler or at least less metropolitan. But here in southern Sweden, apple trees grow EVERYWHERE. Walking through the neighborhoods or even in town, the yards and green spaces are dotted with apple trees of every color. I mentioned in a previous garden update that we have an apple tree in the backyard of our apartment building, and we’ve been watching the ripening progress of the apples with excitement.
Unfortunately, the day that I had planned to go out with Little Miss and pick apples was apparently the day AFTER everyone else in our building had planned (can I get in on the memo, guys?), so she and I went out there to an empty tree! No adorable baby-with-basket-of-apples photos this year. Thankfully, my generous MIL had gotten more than she needed from her friend, and shared some of her bounty with us. My nearly 16 month old Little Miss has finally cut her first teeth (the two bottom central incisors and -strangely- a bottom molar), but is still not a huge fan of hard food she has to bite. I’ve been unable to find unsweetened applesauce here, so I figured I would make some homemade applesauce. It also seemed a wonderful way to celebrate fall, which has come in with a vengeance!
After washing the dirt off the apples, we cut them into quarters and cut out the seeds, then cut them further into roughly 1 cm cubes. I left the skin on because it is by far the most nutritious part of the fruit. One of my favorite things about growing food (or eating food grown by friends/neighbors) is that I KNOW that there are no pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals.
We then put the apple chunks into a pot and added enough water to just cover them. This we brought to a boil, then turned it down and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. The apples still held their shape, but were very easy to smush (If you like a chunkier applesauce, I’d recommend cooking them less, till they are just fork tender). We drained the water, then mashed the apples with a potato masher until it was thick but relatively smooth (Conversely, if you like a very smooth applesauce, run them through a food mill, food processor, or blender). I then stirred in about a teaspoon of lemon juice, mostly as a preservative, to keep the sauce from turning brown. If you want to add any spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves, or if you want it a little sweeter, just stir in your desired additions.
And here you have it! The result from 5 medium sized apples filled about ¾ of a 500ml jar, I’d say just under a pint of applesauce. It is naturally sweet, and while the skins are noticeable, they almost melt in your mouth. And it got the stamp of approval from Little Miss!
How do you like to celebrate the seasons?