Thinking About Drinking

It’s autumn, and I need a drink.

It’s partly because autumn is my least favourite season, but mainly because the crabapples are ripe.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember I mentioned I love food and I’m helplessly addicted to gardening.

The result of those traits is a back yard containing an apple tree, a crabapple tree, grapevines, raspberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, haskaps (a very cool variety of honeysuckle with fruit like blueberries on steroids), strawberries, asparagus, a hazelnut tree, and a greenhouse full of tomatoes and peppers.  My “real” garden is about 3,000 square feet of vegetables outside the city.

The back yard in mid-summer when it still looked nice

The star of the backyard show is the crabapple tree.  Every year, it droops under the weight of its crop –  deliciously sweet-tart, juicy blush-pink apples.  (The variety is Rescue, in case there are any other hungry gardeners out there.)  Every year, I cart away a couple of wheelbarrow-loads of crabapples.  I make jelly, fruit leather, applesauce, and spiced crabapples.  Then if there are leftovers, I ferment them into hard cider.

This process begins with an explosion of pulverized crabapples and ends with a product that ranges from rotgut to rocket fuel to rot (if I don’t get a high enough alcohol content).

Juicing was a laborious process until a few years ago when Hubby bought me one of those newfangled kick-ass juicers – yet another reason why he’s on the best-husband-ever list.  The new juicer works like a dream… except for one thing.  No matter how fast I slam the pusher into the chute after adding a handful of apples, the shredding action is so aggressive that bits spray everywhere.  The first time I used it, I was picking apple flecks out of my eyebrows and off the ceiling.

This year I wised up and did the juicing on the back deck where I could hose everything off afterward.  (The neighbours didn’t even bat an eye.  After the radish/toilet incident, they’re probably afraid to ask.)

Once all the juicing is done, it’s a glorious exercise in hope.  What yeast should I use this year?  What part of the process will I tweak to get the absolutely perfect batch of cider?  Then there’s fermentation, racking, fining, bottling with just the right amount of added sugar to get a delicious sparkle in the finished product.

Then there are months of anticipation.  It takes about a year before the final product is ready.

Then comes the first taste… and the final classification:  rotgut, rocket fuel, or rot.  But I keep hoping somehow, some year, I’ll magically produce something drinkable.  Well, something other people might consider drinkable.  I drink it anyway…

But in the mean time, all that work and hope has made me thirsty.  Think I’ll crack open a bought beer.  At least I know it’ll be good.

What’s your favourite autumn beverage?

Oh, and loosely related to gardening:  I can’t believe I actually managed to snap a bee in mid-flight in my garden a few days ago:

Bee in flight just below the smaller sunflower

27 Comments

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27 responses to “Thinking About Drinking

  1. What a beautiful back yard! Okay. For some reason that sounds dirty to me… Sorry.

  2. my favorite autumn beaverage? lol, it should be whatever stuff that comes out the other end of my wife’s new masticating juicer…lol. Its amazing how sychronized women are, I never even heard of this juicer craze until she kept bringing it up over and over and over and over…. My friends’ wives are also all into this stuff now, too.

  3. Just a question…what’s fruit leather???
    We don’t have autumn here :( I would say that my favourite drink would be Jack Daniels to get completely sloshed but have been dreaming about a vanilla cream vodka for some time….

    • Fruit leather is fruit puree that’s spread out thin and dried. The resulting leathery sheet tastes just like regular dried fruit, unless (like me) you add flavourings like cinnamon to the puree. You can also mix multiple fruits – the sky’s the limit for flavours. Yummy.

      Hmmm, vanilla cream vodka – I’ve never tried it, but Hubby is a major vanilla fan. I’m forseeing a bottle in our future…

  4. I appreciate watching everything dead up. I feel myself turning inward where the lights are still on, mostly. Winter gives me an excuse to stay inside and make stuff. Summer lasts exactly the right amount of time for me, and then it’s “hurry up and die, already.” Possibly, not normal.

    • You’re right about winter and creativity – that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to live in an all-summer climate. I love being inside where it’s warm and bright, making things (and food) while the snow swirls outside. And I have the same variety of abnormality you do – I’ve been known to euthanize houseplants by putting them on the back porch for some “fresh air” in the wintertime, just because they kept hanging around looking sick without actually kicking off. A breath of fresh air does it every time.

      I think the only reason I don’t like autumn is because it kills off my food-producing plants… and I love my food. Grapes are ripening in the back yard now – should be another week or so. Yum.

  5. Damn! you can garden! Lovely backyard. Mine is turning into a rainforest of weeds.it will soon be declared a national forest by US forest dept.

    On an semi-related note, I love the word autumn. ‘Fall’ lacks that feel

    • You’re right about the word “autumn”. It sounds so much rounder and warmer and more refined than “fall”. ‘Course, I may also be influenced by the fact that one of my friends always says, “Nice trip, see ya in the fall” whenever I trip over something…

  6. Love hard apple cider. There’s about 20 wineries in a 10 mile radius from my home, so there’s wine everywhere.
    As a kid I had crabapple trees in my backyard, their primary function was as ammunition.

  7. Autumn is a mixed bag for me – the welcome of cooler weather and the changing colors, offset by the knowledge of cold and unpleasant days ahead. It reminds me of a stretch of road that I often travel. Behind me – pleasant Pennsylvania Dutch farms, bustling interstate travel, roadside attractions; ahead of me – bleak hills, what I call “the empty quarter of travel” and a harsh landscape.

    As an aside, it doesn’t have to be autumn for me to need a drink.

  8. Nice backyard! And I learned something new–I’d never heard of haskaps before. Do they taste like blueberries, too, or only look like them?

    • Haskaps taste like super-strong, very tart blueberries. I mix them about half and half with real blueberries to make turbo-charged blueberry jam.

      I loved your book! I managed to resist it for nearly 4 hours before I caved. I’d hoped to get my Amazon review up this morning, but life happened – look for it this evening or tomorrow.

      Hey, everybody, go buy Linda’s book, “In A Fix”. Funny, quirky characters, a unique concept, and laugh-out-loud funny lines! (I’ll never think of gerbils the same way again.) http://amzn.to/Uso2zU

  9. Ohhhhhhh I’m jealous . . and I’m going to use that glowing green envy to help me build my own kick-ass garden and greenhouse (a dream I’ve had for a while) when I move out of this apartment . . which should be any time now. (Hubby and I are waiting to hear from a company in Florida.)

    And sunflowers are my favorite flowers. You’ve inspired me to post my own garden photos on my blog when the time comes. :)

    In the fall, I’m partial to Samuel Adams Octoberfest, or any fall-themed beer. I also love pumpkin beer. But I wouldn’t turn down crabapple rotgut, rocket fuel, or rot. XD

  10. I agree, your backyard is lovely. I don’t really have a favorite autumn drink, but I do love autumn. In fact, every winter when I contemplate moving to a summer-year-round climate, I remember how much I’d miss fall. The air just smells and feels differently. The leaves here in Ohio are beautiful, too. So I guess I’ll stay here for now. At least until I have gnarled, arthritic joints that can no longer tolerate the cold. :) But I’ll never be as ambitious as you and create all of those crabapple yummies. Well, actually, I wouldn’t even know how…

    • I wouldn’t want to live in a summer-only climate, either. I’d miss the snow and cold, though I wouldn’t object if it only lasted a month or two instead of five long months. My beef with fall is that we usually get an early frost (end of August or beginning of September) that kills everything. Then we have to look at dead brown nothing for a couple of months before the snow comes and covers it up. Maybe if I lived in a place with a short autumn full of spectacular colours, I could learn to love the fall…

  11. I’m jealous of your lovely backyard – I’m having trouble finding my house through all the weeds!

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