Last Sunday we went to the Mt. View Orchard in Hood River, Oregon. We decided to pick us some apples and pears and can them. It was a beautiful drive with all the fall colors out in full force. The Columbia Gorge is amazing anytime of the year and something you really should see if you are in the area.
Mt. View Orchard and Fruit Stand is an amazing place. The owners are nice and helpful. You can pick your own fruit or just fill up boxes from the what seems like hundreds of bins already packed with picked fruit. I never knew there were so many varieties of apples and pears!
Robby insisted we pick our own, so we were off to the orchard. There were plenty of trees with apples low enough for him to reach.
They had a mini play area for the kids, but wouldn't let us take the John Deere out to the orchard.
It didn't matter, we had a wagon, a box and a little four year old who was as excited as I've seen him.
We moved from tree to tree and got at least four different varieties of apples into our box.
We hauled our apples back to the stand to pay for all thirty four pounds of apples! We also got about ten pounds of pears when we saw a jar of pear butter for sale at the fruit stand. We've made apple butter before so pear butter sounded like a good idea as well.
We started peeling, coring and slicing 34 pounds of apples. After an hour of doing this, it became apparent we would need a very large container to hold them all and allow them to soak all night.
We pored the 10 cups we had so far into a large plastic storage bin.
And then we cut some more. And then we got out the peeler/corer/slicer we borrowed from one of Grandma's co-workers (Thanks Sandy!). This made things a lot faster and made a huge mess!
Robby loved cranking the handle for about three of the apples and then grew bored with the whole process.
Finally we had all thirty four pounds of apples sliced and in the bin. We added sugar, stirred and let them sit covered overnight to soak in their own juice.
It was a really great feeling to finally see the empty box three hours later!
Robby helped for a while and then entertained us by showing us how he could put puzzles together on the kitchen floor. Firetrucks are a lot cooler than apples and canning.
The next day we (mostly The Grandma) got the apples and juice into 20 quart jars and hot bathed them into a beautiful sight.
We have done this in the past and we just love how we can take a jar of these out at any time of the year and make an apple pie using "fresh" sweet apples. I've never tasted a better apple pie than the ones that come from using these canned apples.
Next came the pears! We peeled, cored and chopped all them by hand this time. It went pretty quick compared to the apples. We put the chopped pears into the food processor and pureed them into pear sauce.
When we filled up our crock pot and still had pears left over, it was time to go knocking on the neighbor's door to borrow a crock pot. Living on a cul de sac is great for knowing your neighbors. Most of the time.
Thanks to my neighbor we had two crock pots to finish. We added cinnamon and sugar (only a cup and a half per crock pot!) and let them bubble all night. I visited Ree's site to get recipe ideas on how to make this amazing pear butter. She just finished her first cookbook and I can't wait to get one!
I have to admit the best part of making pear butter is how it makes your whole house smell delicious.
The next morning the butter was reduced by half and ready to go into jars. We got a total of 12 half pint (8 oz.) jars.
Four of the jars were shorter and wider and were so cute The Grandma couldn't resist buying them and paying $1 each for the jars. Money well spent if you ask me!
Now the job at hand is not eating all of these ourselves and saving some to give as presents this holiday season!