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Late summer Sonoma County is a time I associate with the crisp, green and red Gravenstein apple. Driving through Sonoma's country roads we find gnarly, old apple trees laden with fruit, propped by splintering 2x4's, and covering the orchard floors with ripe red, yellow, and green fruit.  Such abundance inspires celebration and a rolling of the sleeves! Stretch out sweet summer through preserving its fruit.

Apple Celebrations:

From the recent annual, old-fashioned style Gravenstein Apple Fair to the Apple Blossom Parade next April, people around these parts know how to celebrate apples! Find pies, ciders, fritters, butters, caramel covered apples, and many other delectable treats at such events while dancing to music, watching a parade, or investigating old fashioned apple factory machines. My neighbor's 5-year old even took part in the apple sauce eating (or should I say gulping?) contest at the Gravenstein Apple Fair.

Where to find Apples:

Sonoma County Farm Trails guide helps you find apple ranches in your backyard.  Ask for a Gravenstein Apple to support the living memory of this "forgotten flavor" selected by the Slow Food Foundation for the Biodiversity Ark of Taste.  Click here to find local sources for the Gravenstein identified by Slow Food Russian River.

Sonoma County Farmer's Markets will also feature apples for the next several months.

Many locals are now growing trees in their backyard.  After just five years my neighbor's tree is already producing more apples than she can put to use.  Ask if you can help "glean" up your neighbor's orchard floor!  I also scored one box of apples on Freecycle

Try Canning, Freezing or Drying to Make Apples Last Through Winter:

Thursday, September 10 at 6:30: Sebastopol Hardware Center offers a Food Preservation Class with Wendy Krupnick.  Learn how to can, freeze, dry apples and more! All canning supplies will be 20% off after the class. Click here for a canning lid coupon from Sebastopol Hardware Center.  Call (707) 823-7688 for details.

If you miss this class or get crowded out - last year's class crammed 175 people in the hardware store - check out this excellent on-line tutorial.  "A Sonoma Garden" is one of my favorite local blogs, and this article is exemplary of fabulous photos, excellent "how-to's" and even little freebies like the canning lid label pdf.  Jump over to the Fallen Apple Applesauce article for true canning inspiration.

You can also learn to can while helping others through Slow Food Northern Sonoma's Farm to Pantry program.  The next community canning session, September 16 at 9 am, is hosted at the Relish Kitchen in Healdsburg.  Contact Aletha Soule for more information.

Inspiring Recipes:  (Warning: Don't Read When Hungry)

(Gail at Smiling Tree peels an apple with the kids for snack time)

How to Make Fruit Leather posted on Simply Recipes by author Elise Bauer - this healthy treat is the number one snack requested at my house!  Note, parchment paper is a good plastic wrap substitute, although wax paper will not work!

Try this excellent crumb top apple pie. Sono-Ma Melissa Wood is famous for her version of this pie, which is sans raisins.  Travel back in time with this 1963 newspaper edition of a Baked Betty recipe!  Or try the tasty Apple Crisp recipe with a rolled oat topping.

**Update:  Sharon Eisley just found an apple fritter recipe and made these lovely Beignets (or Ben Yays is honor of her son Benjamin.)**

Beware of Apple Worms and Electrical Outlets:

My counter tops have been covered with apples over the past month - apples in the basket waiting to be peeled and cored, apples bubbling away in the crockpot (easy apple sauce!), cooling fruit leather....  Apparently, with all of these apples, a worm or two may come along.  One of our little worms decided to make a break from the apple corer and "wormed" his way into our electrical outlet.  His little adventure led to a fried GFI outlet - luckily not a fire!  My free apples turned into a $100 electrician bill, but my family is still happily licking apple juice off our fingers.  Beware and enjoy!


  1. Sharon // September 8, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

    Ah the insipid apple worm! I am sooo sorry about that. If they are all so talented perhaps we can train them to jump through firey hoops. I bet noone is selling trained apple worms at the wee peets craft sale!
    I really want to try to make apple fritters. Im so inspired. Perhaps tonight!
    thanks for your lovely site Holly- all us sonoma moms thank you!

  2. Sharon // September 13, 2009 at 9:16 PM  

    We made apple fritters. They were more like Beignets. So we called them Ben-yays.:)The recipe came from we added extra nutmeg and vanilla as well. yum yum. Be sure to cook them till quite brown so they are crisp outside and soft inside. Our gravensteins were fabulous at the core- still with texture and a bit tart.
    Oh and I halved the recipe with was mor ethan enough for our family of four.

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