By Steve Damon, BFC Shareholder
My son Isaac and I have started a new family tradition: striving to put as many local apple varieties into our Christmas breakfast applesauce as possible. In 2012, our Christmas morning applesauce was made with 23 varieties. Last year, we doubled to 46. Isaac lamented, “So close to fifty.” He also pointed out that he missed adding our cousins’ Green Translucents—along with other varieties—to the applesauce.
Many of the apples are purchased at the orchards’ farm stands, Green Fields Market, and Brattleboro Food Co-op. Whenever Isaac and I are on a trip, we check out the local farmers’ markets and co-ops, aspiring to find a new variety. We are typically met by Ben and Tommy Clark (Clarkdale Proprietors), Victor Signore (Produce Manager of Green Fields Market), or John Truncale (Produce Manager at Brattleboro Food Co-op) with a finger point to new apples. Victor told me recently that Black Oxfords will soon be coming from Kindred Spirits in Ashfield, MA. At a Christmas concert last year, I voiced my concern to John that our applesauce did not have any Sheepnose. He joyfully told me that he still had a few at the Co-op, and that he would put one aside for me. We have become friends with these apple growers though our silly quest.
My mother grew up on an apple orchard in Shelburne, MA, called Graves-Glen Farm. In 1954, my grandfather decided to give up apple growing and to concentrate on dairy farming. The trees have fallen into disrepair, but still give a little fruit. When I was younger, my grandmother would send me out to the pasture to pick Gravenstein, Macintosh, and Golden Delicious apples for her apple pie, which she sweetened with my Uncle Jim’s maple syrup. (Uncle Jim, Isaac, and I continue to sugar.) Isaac and I pick from these same trees, as well as our own Astrachen tree. Tears have come to my eyes, with all this reminiscing. Back to 2014…
Whenever I simmer a batch of applesauce during the fall, I scoop most of it onto a cookie sheet for freezing. Come Christmas Eve, there are multiple bags in the freezer, containing what appear to be apple popsicles.
As in past years, when we return from church on Christmas Eve 2014, we will defrost the many blocks of frozen applesauce to warm in the morning. We will enjoy our applesauce with pancakes, strata, French toast, or eggs—the complete menu has yet to be determined. Leftover applesauce will be consumed on the next day, St. Stephen’s Day! Last year we had so much applesauce, we continued to slurp it though New Year’s and Epiphany.
As I type this on October 16, tonight’s applesauce (consisting of Hidden Rose, Ashmeads Kernel, Knobbed Russet, Esopus Spitzenberg, and Davey) is solidifying in the freezer, bringing the current total to 37. We are so going to hit 50!