I was walking around the yard recently, feeling a little dispirited about how poorly our garden did this year. It started off so beautifully, but the summer drought and the vine borers pretty much wiped us out and left us with hardly anything to put up for the winter. In fact, everything about this past summer has been hard, and though I don't want to complain, I've found myself more than once wondering what God's up to with us. What plans does He have to see us through the winter? Is there something different He wants us to do, or is this one of those times when we simply need to stand still and know that He is God?
And then I caught a glimpse of something from the corner of my eye. Something strange about a tree in a part of the yard I don't normally pay much attention to.
I strolled over for a closer look, and found these hanging from the boughs.
For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what they were. I mean, they look like apples, but have you ever heard of brown apples? I hadn't. I called my husband over, and he stared at them, as perplexed as I was. So we did what all good, homeschool parents do. We took one down and took it in the house to start investigating with the kids.
After a little research, we discovered that what we have here is an Ashmead's Kernal apple tree. Ashmead's Kernel is an extremely old English apple variety, introduced around the year 1700 in Gloucester.
And they're excellent for desserts, ciders and preserves.
Mysteriously, though, it's reported not to be a self-pollinating tree. Meaning, there must be another apple tree in the near vicinty to pollinate it. And though we searched far and wide, we have yet to find another. There is one tiny crabapple tree on the furthest opposite corner of the yard, and I suppose it might possibly be the answer, but I'm hard-pressed to believe it.
Call me naive, simple-minded or foolish, but I prefer to think of it as manna from heaven, a gift from God.
We let the girls pick what they could reach, and they came in with a bushel full. We'll have to go back with a ladder for the rest, but right now we've been having a heap of fun cooking them.
I found a very simple recipe for making apple butter overnight in the slow-cooker. Imagine for a moment waking up on a cool, autumn morning with the tantalizing aroma of simmering apples and spices wafting through the house. Just heavenly.
We'll spend most of the weekend putting up more apple butter, along with jars of applesauce and preserves for pies. (And if hubby has his way, there's liable to be a couple of jars of cider, too.)
And our prospects for getting through the winter just got a little sweeter.