Bird'-eye View: Apple picking fills the belly and soul | - petsitterbank

Bird’-eye View: Apple picking fills the belly and soul |

Tweeting, fellow birders, and thanks for flying in to read this column. Alas, summer is over, but now we have autumn to enjoy. With that in mind, I thought we’d try something different this week to help usher in the glory of the new season. So grab your sweater and wicker basket and let’s head on out to be part of an autumn tradition.

Apple picking: Is there a better way to spend a crisp Saturday afternoon in October? The leaves are changing, the air is fresh, there’s cider and donuts and pumpkins everywhere. However, before we go, we should first get all our apples in a row.

A basket of apples is generally called a bushel, and it typically contains around 125 medium-sized apples. This weighs about 48 pounds and usually costs anywhere from $15 to $30, depending upon the farm and location. Now a bushel of apples is equal to four pecks, meaning a single peck is 12 pounds of apples. By liquid measurements, one bushel would be eight gallons, or 32 quarts, or 64 pints. If dividing your lot (say you only want half a bushel) that would be 24 pounds and two pecks. So using this guideline should help you determine precisely how many apples you’d like, their weight, and how many you should receive.

Now the best part: What types of apples should we pick? There are so many delicious versions of this fantastic fruit, but I’ll do my best to pick the finest of the fine. Rather than focus on just a few “core” selections, I think it best to offer up a moderate list. What follows are some of the prime choices you may have locally:

McIntosh: Perhaps the most famous all-purpose apple of all-time, I had to start with this wonderful New England favorite. With red-green skin, white flesh and a tart flavor, it’s great for pies, candied treats or simply eating right out of the bag.

Granny Smith: This firm light-green apple which originated in Australia has become a true darling here in the States. With white juicy flesh which is tart and acidic, it’s great for baking pies, cobblers and crumble (cakes as well).

Gala: Wildly popular in recent years, this New Zealand native has found a true home here in America. With reddish-orange striped skin, mellow flavor with a soft touch of sweetness and floral aroma, this entry is especially good for making apple sauce.

Red Delicious: This tall, beautiful deep-red apple has a firm skin and striking look, with ample sweetness and a touch of acidity. It’s not good for baking but great for snacking, and is a handsome addition to holiday fruit baskets.

Golden Delicious: The name says it all, and this yellow-skinned delectable does not disappoint. Sweet and smooth with a fine flesh, it’s excellent for sauces or fruit salad, as well as apple butter.

Honeycrisp: This rising star in the apple world is also the official state fruit of Minnesota. Red-skinned, evenly tart, juicy and sweet, with a phenomenally crispy crunch (thus the name), it’s absolutely perfect for snacking. Highly recommended.

Fuji: Originating in Japan, this apple is also gaining popularity here in America, and for good reason. It’s red-skinned with mild yellow highlights, creamy white flesh and juicy bite. and it’s crispy and super sweet with a fine-grained texture. This is a genuine favorite among apple connoisseurs.

Pink Lady (Cripps Pink): Another tasty gift from the good people of Australia, this fabulous fruit combines sweet and tart to create one heck of an apple. Gorgeous shiny pink skin and white flesh, coupled with an effervescent finish, makes them quite frankly, spectacular.

Apples are delicious, but apple-picking itself is an American tradition. It’s not the act itself, it seems, but the time spent with family and friends making memories that grow and remain forever within the orchard of the human heart. When you cultivate such activities, you cultivate a community centered around peace and love. It’s planting a seed of hope for the unknown future. Allow it to blossom and flourish in its course.

And we end with a funny poem:

Apples of green

Apples of red

Falling to earth

but not on our heads!

My apologies to Sir Isaac Newton…

Happy Harvesting!

Born and raised in Methuen, Vincent Spada is the author of three books, as well as a plethora of poems and short stories. Reach him with questions or ideas for his column at vinspada@yahoo.com.

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