Looking at the Sweetness

This last fall Sparky and I went apple picking. We traveled into Michigan to the Tree-Mendous fruit farm. That is the only place we have found that grows Mutsu apples in these parts. Not only do we get Mutsu but also Cortland, Empire and a slew of other lesser known varieties of apples. The result is that son#1 is an apple snob. From an early age he has had a discerning palate when it comes to apples. He won’t eat a Red Delicious apple unless someone has a gun to his head. He loves a good Empire, Jazz or Pink Lady apple but his all time favorite is the Mutsu. We picked a half bushel for him and he managed to eat them all within 3 weeks – an apple a day. And they were big apples! At the time we were picking there were very few people around. We thought it was due to going in the middle of the week but found out that it was mostly due to fear. You see the owner/manager of the orchard was hospitalized with Eastern Equine Encephalitis and it was uncertain if he was going to make it. People were afraid they would be exposed picking the apples. We picked lots of apples and even giving son#1 his cut left us with a lot more than I could use in a couple of weeks. Having done this before I set to sorting and storing the apples.
1. Use only perfect apples and sort from largest to smallest.
2. Wrap each apple individually in newspaper.
3. Place the apples in a box or basket (we use a milk crate) putting the smallest on the bottom.
4. Store the box in a cool basement, garage, fruit cellar or refrigerator. Apples will freeze if the temperature dips below 30°; and will ripen quickly, if the temperature goes above 40°.
That said I’ve had wonderful apples for pies at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that we’ve moved into February my supply is dwindling. The newspaper announced that due to the age of the owner and his health, coupled with no one to carry on the business, Tree-Mendous had closed permanently Dec. 31, 2019. It was news that was a huge blow to our family traditions. I am savoring these last late apples.

Apples just ripe and warm from the sun
Crisp and crunchy with lingering tang
September glow a blush on each one
Their flavor and texture virtues I sang

To a February apple they can’t compare
Cocooned in paper and kept cool
Treasured and hoarded, I reluctantly share
In tarts and pies and apple fool

Peel changes from thick to thin
Green-yellow to a translucent gold
From smooth to soft wrinkled skin
A fresh faced girl to a beauty old

These apples of snow and dark
Are not for eating out of hand
A contrast to cold winters stark
They speak of sky and summers grand

When ice and blizzard snow is spun
With the golden orb my tongue enthralled
Releasing my memories of sun
In pan or skillet life’s sweetness recalled

33 thoughts on “Looking at the Sweetness

  1. Some of those apples I have not heard of and I agree with your son about red delicious. they aren’t good apples. As for the business that is so sad and reminds me what happened with my dad’s Blueberry Hill and no one to take over. My brother tried, to much work involved. Now I’m curious about owners illness so must hit google.

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    1. The family farm is quick disappearing. Fruit farmers have a very narrow margin for errors. Seems they are one late snow away from disaster… So sorry to hear that your father’s blueberries are no more.

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  2. oh how sad it had to close! Love this bit of history … I have obviously seen that there is a variety of apples but never really explored the names or flavours. Spoilt because we can have fresh apples all year round here. Your poem makes them sound yummy, will buy one with my groceries today 🙂

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    1. They are all different and we are very much apple snobs (son#1 gets it from me). The Braeburn apple is good (originating in New Zealand) but they tend to be a little more expensive just like the Honey Crisp… Still the Mutsu is my favorite – hope you can find one as it is a real treat!

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  3. September glow a blush on each one – was my favourite line, your poem was like the apple’s journal of life. so sad to hear about the owner and the farm closing down, what will happen to all those apple trees.

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  4. I know I like Pink Lady. I’ve never had Mutsu. I’ll have to try them. My step-dad’s favorite was Grimes Golden. I used to be able to buy them at our Farmers’ Market, but I haven’t seen them for years. They’re good but they don’t last long. That’s probably why people stopped planting them.

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    1. Thanks! Yes Granny Smith are good apples for baking but I prefer to use less sugar and rely on the natural sweetness of the apples. Granny Smith are a little too tart to omit most of the sugar… As for the farmers I fear that the family farm is fading away and the corporate farm is becoming the norm.

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  5. I am a fan of Pink Lady apples. Grannies never got much traction, in our household. I wonder what will become of the trees, especially if the property becomes second home turf, for Chicagoans and Detroiters.

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    1. That is what everyone is worried about. There was another orchard, now called Orchard Hills, that was improved by building a retirement community on it. The only remnant of the orchard is an apple tree outside the office…

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  6. Another of your accessible poems! I’m going straight to the crisper drawer to get a pink lady…probably shipped to So. Cal from Washington months ago, but still delicious to those who know no better.

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