Tag Archives: fruit

Another country skill set

My brother came to visit last weekend. We used the guise of harvesting my crab apples to get to see each other. Last year he bought an apple press, and made the sweetest apple juice ever. It was wonderful, but could have used something to balance the sweetness. This is where my crab apple tree comes in.

My brother is a man of few words, so we’re going to have to tell this story mostly with pictures.

Start with the pretty red fruit he took to Nevada. It’s ready today, but many apples won’t be available until later this Fall. He plans on freezing the juice and holding it for later.

It may not seem like much, but if you filled these same buckets with full sized apples, you wouldn’t have as much fruit. The smaller size of these lets each bucket hold more, and the giveaway is the weight. Bigger fruit has more air between the apples.



This is his apple juicer. He bought it last year and it looks to be a quality craftsman’s product. It has much more soul than some stainless steel, motor driven product. The fruit goes into a hopper at the top of the red piece.


Here is a better view of the hopper. Load her up, turn the wheel, and make apple juice. I’m sure you could use it to juice anything you wanted, but it might flavor the equipment. This one is just for apples. (I could probably make some good catfish bait with this. A few crawdads, some crickets, just saying.)

Juice comes out the bottom and drains into a bucket.

I am surprised that the juice is red. It’s actually pretty cool that it is. It will give a charming color to any juice he adds this fall. Just imagine the awesome jelly I could make with pure undiluted juice.

He told me the flavor is tart, but very complex. That is the whole point of using it. The juice from last year was like honey. I’d really like to try a bottle of hard cider after he gets his Fall apples juiced. This juice is destined for the freezer for now.

He reported the recovery is about 10%. That isn’t horrible, but I was hoping for about 20%. The residue will go on his compost pile.

I have hunch the compost won’t stay there very long. He said a herd of mule deer invaded his yard the minute he started his apple mill. The scent must have drawn them in. They’re kind of cagey, but he managed this poor photo of a young buck as proof.

I hope the formatting works out in this post. There are more pictures than text.

My family has always been into preserving lost skills. Regular readers know about my sourdough starter, pickling crock, and canning jars. My brother even has a fully functional blacksmith’s shop.

What skills are you preserving? Do you make bent willow furniture, mud ovens, pottery? I think it’s important to save these skills for future generations.


Filed under Uncategorized


I've posted about my foraging trips many times before. There is a surprising amount of food along our highways and byways. Today was all about gathering something up.

We made a drive last night, three large reservoirs provide a lot of scenic shoreline. It was bright and hot. The air conditioner was well appreciated in my truck. Before we left, I grabbed this photo.

Several of you asked for a shot of the hammered copper hatband my brother made me. After I monkeyed with it, there is some shiny, some aged, and just a tiny bit of green patina. I wanted more green, but the clear coating turned most of it dark.

We spotted a surprising amount of both wild and feral fruit. I keep bags in my truck at all times for just such an event. We pulled over and filled a tiny mesh bag with beautiful blackberries right before the monsoon started. In fact right now, I'm sitting under the awning in the middle of another thunderstorm. I have my prickly pear lemonade beside me. If the awning retracts, I'm making a run for it.

We stashed our blackberries and finished our drive in the rain, making notes of what we spotted and where. We saw deer everywhere. This young mule deer buck stopped long enough for a quick photo. It's one of my crappy iPhone snaps, but you can see his small velvet covered antlers.

We spotted wild elderberries, choke cherries, plums, hawthorns, and the blackberries. I call the other stuff feral, because it isn't native, but there are quite a few loaded apple trees, and for the first time ever apricots. These likely originated from someone's discarded pit or apple core. It's too early for apples, choke cherries, and elderberries. It ought to be too early for wild plums, but it isn't. It ought to be too late for any apricots, but there are some decent ones left.

I learned my lesson long ago about taking home baskets full of this stuff. A jar of jelly is nice, as is the occasional bottle of syrup. Beyond that, I enjoy a few and leave the rest.

I'm intimately familiar with the tiny golden plums. Today I found a red variety I've never seen before. We're on the Oregon border, so it's a bit outside my usual orbit. The red ones looked like cherries, but cherries usually come on a monstrous tree. I thought they might be someone's feral pie cherrie. Nope, plums.

These things are like tiny balls of sugar, with a pit inside. I have to remind myself that the genus is prunus, and they effect me the same was as prunes. Still, a few make me happy. I grabbed a snack sized portion of everything that was ripe.

We stopped at a marina and bought a pint of vanilla ice cream. Those blackberries are headed there. The rest are snacks. Wild fruit isn't green grocer beautiful, and if you want perfect you should stick to your favorite market. It tastes wonderful, and if you're cooking with it, you probably won't care.

I could have filled my truck bed with this stuff, but why? A few snacks are enough for me. If I want a few more, they are waiting on the tree.

I wonder how hard it is to make an Asian plum sauce while camping. Could be the makings of a fun meal sometime.



Filed under Uncategorized

Something simple and fun to make

First a little confession. I’m going camping Friday around dawn. Rumor has it there is a WiFi signal occasionally, so I am taking my iPad. I have a couple of things going on across the blogosphere, and will attempt to reblog and participate in comments.

If the WiFi fails me, I’ll be back Monday at midday. I love you guys, but camping is important this year.

So, we went to Whole Foods over the weekend. I like to try new things, but this isn’t exactly new. This odd fruit has been all over the American West for decades.

Prickly pear cactus grows everywhere out here. Unfortunately, the kind I’m familiar with are tiny. They are about the size of a finger at best, and covered with fierce spines. The kind in the stores are a slightly different variety.

The fruits of the prickly pear are called tunas. It’s because of the vibrant deep pink inside. I probably made a mistake by not including the sliced fruit in my photo.

The store bought variety is almost the size of a baseball, and are sold spine free. I assume some tiny spines were singed off somewhere along the line.

We cheated, because we wanted to try this. This is prickly pear lemon aid.

I just sliced the fruit, squeezed it into a plastic jug. No spoons required, it just squeezes out. We poured bottled lemon aid over the top, put the lid on and shook like hell.

This stuff tastes like heaven. The fruit comes through clearly, but isn’t overwhelming. It’s a perfect blending. It’s even better after it steeps for a while.

I will make this again, only I’ll make it the right way. If you cheat, like I did, you won’t be disappointed.

I have a theory my cocktail shaker will appear soon for an alcoholic concoction.

Look for prickly pear tunas at your Whole Foods or ethnic foods store. Let me know if you make the lemon aid, or even better if you invent something.

See you all Monday, unless I get lucky with the WiFi.


Filed under Blogging, Uncategorized

Running out of supplies

There is no joy in Mudville, or Boise for that matter. I’m fast running out of everything I stored from 2014.

About a week ago the last of my precious morels got used up on a hamburger. It was a good burger, but can’t happen again until about June.

Today the last of my peaches disappeared at lunchtime. I ate peaches until they ran out my ears, then I dehydrated a bunch for winter. I’ve been throwing them in a pinch at a time with my pumpkin seeds for lunch. I’m trying the seeds as a remedy for prostate issues (for those who stop in sporadically). Today, all my dried peaches are gone.

There are still a few medlars on the tree. This odd little relative of apples and pears needs to almost rot before you can eat it. The correct term is blet. I’ve tried a dozen methods to get them right, and leaving them on the tree seems to work best. When the stars line up, they are wonderful. The process is the exact same process that astringent persimmons have to go through before they are edible.

There is rain predicted. I wonder if there will be enough to bring out the oyster mushrooms along the Boise River.



Filed under Uncategorized

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for me

I love stone fruits, but I’m down to my last tree. The old apricot died from some kind of root borer a few years ago, and I’m not replacing it. The problem with stone fruits is they all ripen at once, and they don’t store well.

This means when the fruit ripens, you eat it until it runs out your ears. If you intend to make jam or jelly it becomes a today project. We don’t eat a lot of jam or jelly, and making it always results in too much.

It’s time to dig out the dehydrator and figure out how it works again. I love dried fruit and they last a long time.

My last stone fruit is a flat peach. I love these things. Men with beards get along better with smaller fruit. I can eat a flat peach, or wear a standard sized one. I planted a tiny seckle pear tree for the same reason.

My wife has some Saturday plans, so I may start the first batch this evening. I’m sure I need a peach daiquiri in there somewhere too. You know, to help me concentrate on cutting up the rest of the fruit.

I can probably drag the harvest out over a week, but that’s about it. Apples and pears keep if you refrigerate them. Peaches just don’t.

Check this baby out. I swear I thinned heavily too. This is just the easiest branch to photograph. There are many more like it.



Filed under Uncategorized