For us, August has come to mean long days spent in a hot kitchen, chopping fruit and filling jars to can for the long winter. It’s hard work, but we enjoy the taste of summer all year long. And the work is made lighter when we make it a community event, in true Mennonite style!
Over the last four years, friends and neighbours have come together to help us harvest crab apples from the three large trees out front. We spread tarps on the grass, and the most daring among us climb high up into the branches to help shake down the apples. Our 1-year-old, Oran, played it safe this year by donning his lime green bike helmet as he ran around collecting apples from the tarps.
One of the best parts of this experience is the attention that it attracts. It’s great fun seeing the expressions of passersby as they wonder what is going on?! at the otherwise quiet Brubacher House. Often on summer weekends, families of all different cultural backgrounds enjoy picnicking around the lake. After observing the action from a distance for a while, they can’t help but approach us curiously and ask what we are picking. They are usually familiar with the processes of harvesting and preserving, but when we invite them to pick some crab apples for themselves, they are often delighted by their first taste of crab apple! When anyone asks, we always invite them to come back and harvest as many as they would like–there is always more than enough to go around. This year was the best yet, in terms of the quality and quantity of fruit generously provided by these trees.
We’re not the only ones who enjoy the apples! We’ve observed our groundhog friends, looking like small bear cubs, standing way up on their hind legs to take a bite from the lower branches. And the Canada geese have been gathering around the trees for weeks. Certainly, the bees, wasps, and many other insects love the season. And who can blame them?
After we harvest the apples, we sort and chop. Then, they are ready to become flavourful sauce, juice, jelly, and even fruit leather! So many uses for this deliciously sweet and tart fruit. Here’s one of our favourite recipes. Enjoy!