It’s apple season! This year was a great one for fruit trees in Vermont. Even unpruned apple trees on the sides of roads and in yards are bearing beautiful and delicious fruit. When a nearby business mentioned free apple picking opportunities in their parking lot, I jumped on the opportunity. Walking one mile with 3 1/2- to 9-year-olds can seem like a marathon, but we made it in good spirits. Everyone loved apple picking. Older students climbed the trees (my guideline: if you can climb up, you may climb up using care and remembering to hold on well at all times) while younger ones stretched their arms to their limits.
On the next several rainy days, we used an old fashioned apple peeler-corer-slicer to prepare the apples for sauce and crisp as a team. These crank machines are great because they can be used safely by all ages and eliminate the need to use several different sharp kitchen tools with kids. They’re fun to use, so all students were happy to wait in line for their turn. As a reward, we got to eat the peel of each apple we prepared. Given our attention span and energy levels after school, I decided to freeze our chopped and peeled apples. We’d prepare apple sauce and apple crisp on another day.
On Apple Sauce Day, we simply dumped our prepared apples into a big pot with an inch of water on the bottom. We added a tablespoon of cinnamon, and left on the stove until it had boiled for 15 minutes. This allowed the air to come out of the fruit and made sure everything was cooked completely. The room smelled wonderful! A willing helper ladled the sauce into sanitized jars, and two artists drew on round labels that would fit under the Ball jar rim.
I knew we’d be canning that weekend, so I brought our full jars home and sanatized them in a boiling water bath along with my family’s stewed tomatoes.
This was a great multi-day project that didn’t seem to add stress or strain to my after-school day.
This winter when we open our apple sauce at snack time, we will be so proud and excited to enjoy the bounty of our labor!