My minivan is full of apples. I do mean full. We made last weekend into a Procure the Apples weekend, and oh, were we ever successful! (Pictures later. Really.)
For our first trick, er, trip, I led Chuck to two small orchards in the not-really-a-town of Darboy. The owner/operator at the first orchard sold us four pails of “seconds” only after he was convinced that we knew what we were doing. He was suitably impressed that we own a cider press, and he showed us a few of the varieties (honey crisp! Sweet!) in the scratch and dent collection. This is going to be good cider.
The second orchard had two boxes that had been cases of Bud Light filled with imperfect Cortland apples. They had a wall of empty Bud Light cases donated by the bar down the street. Bud Light, according to Chuck, is to beer what Velveeta is to cheese. But back to the topic at hand, Cortlands are a lot like Macintosh; they are good for eating or cooking and go with just about anything. Mixed with the Honey Crisp and Macintosh and who knows what else, their tartness will keep the cider from being too sweet. This is going to be really good cider.
The next day we gave up on the officiating at the Green Bay Packers game – we would never give up on the Packers themselves – and we picked from the tree in front of my office. A few buckets and too many mosquito bites later, we loaded up three buckets at no cost and brought them all home. All the buckets and boxes from the weekend are still in my minivan. It’s a very safe storage space. No chipmunks or other critters can get at those apples before it becomes that good, good cider.
One exception exists, unfortunately. Fruit flies. It was Tuesday night when I decided the fruit flies were distracting the driver (me) all too much. What to do about it? I didn’t want to leave the buckets in the garage where they might attract little furry creatures and stinging critters as well. If I moved the overflowing apple buckets to the house, I’d just be moving the fruit flies to a new home where they’d still drive me crazy.
The solution: cover the buckets. I only had two covers for the big five gallon buckets, and the Bud Light boxes didn’t come with lids. I covered the two buckets that I could, and then found a tarp to throw over the rest. It worked. The apples are still exposed to enough air that they won’t rot, my van smells heavenly, and there are far fewer fruit flies.
Alliteration. That’s where it’s at, people. When we hit the cider press on Sunday, I’ll do my best to chronicle the process on film. Er, on digital. On the blog.