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Fall’s Fruitfullness

Lots of people in Heath have an old apple tree or two. Sometimes the apples aren’t beautiful, but they certainly can make good eating. I’ve been using the generous harvest from this unnamed tree to make apple sauce and apple butter.

Apple butter and apple sauce (L-R)

French toast with apple butter or apple sauce makes an easy  and nutritious breakfast.

Black walnuts in their hulls

My neighbor called me to say he and his wife had collected three big buckets of black walnuts from their two back yard trees. They had never gotten a harvest like this. Usually the squirrels got what nuts there were. So, they didn’t know how to handle the nuts, but they knew they could stain hands badly.

Black walnuts hulled

I didn’t really know how to handle them either, but I knew it was hard work. I found out that Iowa State University had good directions, and slightly humorous, on their website. If you want to know what to do with your black walnuts, click here.

Black walnut with its split hull

After putting on good rubber gloves and  three hours of splitting the hull, pulling out the shelled nut, and scraping away ‘stuff’, then washing the nuts, and setting them out to dry, my neighbor gave up. The other two buckets are up for grabs. Not for the squirrels.  In two or three weeks, when the nuts are dry they will get out their little sledge hammer and shell them. According to Iowa State University they can be kept in the freezer almost indefinitely.

Grapes climbing an old apple tree

The dark tangle is the grapevine, with many grape clusters, that is climbing an old apple tree. I can’t get a good photo but the grapes are climbing at least 15 feet or more up the tree.

Wild grape cluster

The grapes are not very big, although there are a lot of clusters within reach. They are not terribly sweet. Will that change if we get a hard frost this weekend?  And of course, there are the thick skins and big seeds.  What to do? What would you do?

That’s my Three for Thursday – apples, black walnuts and grapes.  To see more threes visit Cindy over at My Corner of Katy. Thanks for setting this up, Cindy.

Fruit as Salesman?

It makes sense that the cover of  The Perfect Fruit: Good Breeding, Bad Seeds and the Hunt for the Elusive Pluot by Chip Brantley should be a still life of luscious fruits. The book is a history of the San Joaquin Valley in California, fruit farming, and hybridization told by a charming young man who meets any number of fascinating characters during his investigations. I learned why the plums I buy at the supermarket in the summer vary so in quality (plums only have a two week harvest period, so the plums of July are not the plums of August) and that there are many delicious pluot or plumcot hybrids, a combination of plum and apricot, that I will be happy to put in my market basket this summer.

It is less understandable why Where the God of Love Hangs Out,  Amy Bloom’s collection of interconnected short stories about the vagaries and varieties of Love, should feature a cherry and a peach.  Apricot?  There is no hint in this book, as sublime as it is,  that life is a bowl of cherries.  Do the fruits compel us to pick up the book and carry it out of the bookstore with us. Or has the bowl of beautiful apples and plums on the cover of her wonderful best selling novel Away become a talisman, promising best sellerdom for this book as well?

Nicholson Baker’s new book, The Anthologist, is about a free verse poet who has put togetehr  an anthology of rhyming poetry. He needs to write the introduction but he is blocked.  In his obsessive peregrinations about poetry, rhythm, popular music, the lives of other poets and his predicament, he has driven away his girl friend and found any number of ways to avoid his desk. The book is a disquisition on poetry and where we find it, learned and often hilarious. It drove me to my bookshelf and the library to reread some of the poets he mentions. Maybe it is not so far fetched that there is a perfect plum on the cover of this book. Maybe he was thinking of William Carlos Williams irresistable plums:

This is just to say

I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the icebox

and which

you were probably

saving

for breakfast

Forgive me

they were delicious

so sweet

and so cold

Just thinking.