We belong to the Backyard Fruit Growers, a wonderful organization which promotes fruit growing by sharing information, know-how and an exciting annual apple tasting. There were about 80 different varieties of apples to sample, most of them old varieties which cannot be bought in a store any more. The members and their guests munched and sampled and made notes, so they could vote for their three favorite varieties at the end of the day.
There was even a table with exotic fruit - jujubes, kiwis, cactus pears, paw paws, persimmons, pears, both Asian and domestic, and some nuts - all grown by the members of the group. I had my first taste of wild persimmons and loved the flavor until my mouth puckered horrendously. Apparently that's the typical aftertaste of a persimmon and can be quickly remedied by a slice of cheese, which had been thoughtfully provided.
There was homemade cider as well and apple butter made entirely without sugar according to an Amish recipe. Cider is boiled down and reduced by half, thus concentratin g the sugar in the fruit and then the peeled apples are added and boiled until they make applebutter. At this point it can be left as is ,or some spices can be added , such as cinnamon, cloves and allspice. I was told that the Amish make this in a big copper kettle and as soon as one batch is finished , the kettle is passed on to the next farm - it is passed on so fast, that the kettle never even gets rinsed out! I'll definitely have to try to make some of this yummy applebutter here at home .
And which apples were Number One in my taste test ? Tioga, Ashmead's Kernel and Swarr - did you ever have a taste of any of them ?