We had every intention of going to the Wellfleet Oyster festival today, but were derailed by the sweet, sweet promise of apple picking.
A couple years ago I asked everyone I knew where there was apple picking. The universal verdict was that you had to go to an orchard off Cape. There simply were no orchards on the Cape, period. It turns out all those people lied. But here's the rub: I can't tell them they were wrong because I can't tell them where this orchard is. It is not only private, but I have no idea how I got there.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend of mine who apparently has the corner on the local fruit market. He got me an invitation to the farm, so we dropped everything and went today. We got ridiculously lost because if you look it up on the map it appears on the wrong street entirely. It's like if you're walking down a city block and you can't find the address you're looking for because the street numbers jump. So you call your friend and he says "oh, turn down that alley and go a couple miles." It's like an IQ test for apple pickers.
I don't know what the farm is called because there are no signs. But the woman who greeted me was nice as could be and took me on a tour, which made me feel less like I was about to find myself in an episode of Twin Peaks. She told me which kinds of trees were which and what each apple was best for. We stocked up on the Matsus which were the size of small cantaloupes and reputed to be good for baking. We also got a bunch of these cute little dark red apples which are sweet and delicious - perfect for showing off in a school lunch box. I tried to remember what all the others were called, but got distracted by all those shiny apples hanging deliciously close to my awaiting Trader Joe's bags, while visions of applesauce danced round my head.
So basically, I have no idea where I was or what I was picking. Although I did recognize raspberries. We were shown the raspberry bushes and were invited to sample some. Does eating raspberries by the fistful constitute sampling?
On our way out, our host held up a little paper lantern and asked if we had ever tried them. I really wanted to be her new best friend and so it pained me to admit total ignorance. She peeled off the paper husk to reveal the tiniest tomatillo I've ever seen. She lets us each try one and when we like them, she handed us a pint.
I had heard she accepted donations for apple picking, so I gave her what seemed like the right amount (based on what we'd heard from our friends). On the way home I thought about what I had spent and tried to visualize what was in the trunk of my car in terms of paper bags at the produce store. Curious, I weighed the apples when we got home.
We picked 35 pounds of apples. I think I owe her a larger donation.
Lucy and I set to work once we got home. She sliced and peeled while I boiled things. We made two jars of apple sauce and four little jars of apple butter. And then we made my aunt's apple crumb cake. I sent a text to Chris (who was at OysterFest like a good little townie): "35lbs of apples. Bring ice cream."
It doesn't look like we've even touched the bags of apples. They look so innocent, sitting in the corner of the kitchen. How could I have gone that completely overboard? I mean, besides the fact that there were trees and trees, DRIPPING with organic apples, pleading with me to take them home.
There will be more applesauce. There will be more pies and some cobbler. There will be apples in every lunchbox between now and Easter.
So, New Orchard Friend, whoever and wherever you are, thank you. We put the tomatillos in a black bean, corn and avocado salad and managed to save 5 for seeds. Will you tell us how to grow them, please?
And does anyone out there have a great apple recipe?