Monday, November 8

Post Harvest Clean-up

Henry David Thoreau wrote in his book Wild Apples a simple yet bold sentence: "All apples are good in November."  In the past week I have had many opportunities to test this assertion.  We are in the midst of the post-harvest clean-up of the orchard, raking apples, cutting suckers and mowing weeds and high grasses.  This tidying of the orchard has allowed me to glean those hidden apples of all varieties and after a great deal of sampling I would have to say I respectfully disagree with Mr. Thoreau.  Perhaps Thoreau was not graced with the pleasure of biting into a McIntosh that has defied the laws of gravity since mid-September.  Some varieties, those picked only a few weeks prior, give to the pallet a sensation very similiar to the flavor and texture they had the day I picked them.  Others seem only to worsen with age, becoming soft, mealy and in some cases overly sweet.  There are those however that when bitten into have a taste that seems only possible this time of year.  For this apple, I must wholeheartedly agree with Thoreau when he says the November air "is the sauce it is to be eaten with.' 
The days are colder, but still of an enjoyable temperature to work in.  The key I have found is to dress in layers, which can be peeled off as the body and the day begin to warm.  Many of the apple trees have begun to turn in color, most to various shades of yellow and gold, a few to orange or even a deep crimson. 
Putting the orchard to bed is hard but satisfying work.  In some ways raking the apples out from under the trees feels much more physically strenuous than picking the fruit.  The job is messy with apples being crushed under foot and the sent of fermenting fruit in the nostrils.  As a crew we slowly make our way up and down each row.  Some varieties leave little work to be done, with only an apple here or there to be found, others have yellow and red carpets under them.  This is a part of the harvest season I have never been a part of before, but I am greatful to learn what goes into preparing the orchard for winter.  It is a good reminder that the work does not end when the apples are off the trees. 
Raked apples


  1. I imagine that Henry David was thinking of apples like the sturdy Blue Pearmain, not that new-fangled McIntosh.

    Thanks for sharing the harvest season! This blog is great.

  2. Adam, I imagine you are right about that. I wonder what old Henry would think about all of today's "popular" varieties. I would take his Blue Pearmain over a McIntosh any day!