How to Make Indigo Blue Dye

Three summers ago, I was cruising the Nashville Farmers Market when I spied Hill and Hollow Farm’s vegetable, flower, and hand-dyed yarn stand. What drew me in was the color blue. Indigo blue. 

On that June morning, owner, Robin Verson, was selling Japanese Indigo plants; the plants she uses to make indigo dye for her gorgeous yarns. The yarn is milled from wool shorn from her own flock of Jacob sheep. I wanted in on this exciting blue action. I bought four of her seedlings and planted them that day. By September, the plants looked like this.

As the plants matured to the flowering stage, I was surprised to see there was no blue in sight. The leaves were green, the flowers were pink, and the stems were a bronzy-red. With winter approaching, I left my small crop of indigo to die, in situ. Little did I know how easily they would self-seed here in Tennessee. Three years later, I had a bumper crop of volunteer Japanese Indigo plants.

During the summer, I noticed there were hints of blue on some of the bruised leaves. Hmmm. The color was in the leaves. I read up on how to extract indigo pigment from leaves, and I saw words like alkalization, oxidation, and reduction in the directions. Principles of Chemistry– the only course in college that made me call home crying.

Back I went to the Farmers Market, now three years later, to find Robin to look for the help I needed.

It turns out every summer when Japanese indigo plants are ready for harvest, Robin hosts all-day long indigo workshops at her farm in Breeding, Kentucky. I signed up for a Sunday in late August.

Upon arrival, I immediately fell in love with her farm and her sheep. I wanted both!

Robin explained the steps we were going to go through. Two weeks later, when I went to try it myself, I texted her to ask for a quick cheat-sheet version of the directions. Here is what she wrote: strip leaves, steep in water to 160º (measure water first), alkalinize, oxidize and reduce water, wait for reduction to be complete, dye and send me pictures! Robin had walked us through all these steps with humor and grace … and hospitality; she and her husband, Paul, fed us every step of the way.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Harvest and Strip Leaves
Our first job was to strip the basil-like leaves from the 24 pounds of indigo stems harvested that morning. To create the brightest color, the plants are picked just before they start to flower. Once cut, they need to be processed immediately before naturally occurring enzymes in the leaves start to decay the indigo pigment (aka indican).

The black buckets were full of fresh stems, the red baskets held the stripped stems, and the two 80-quart stainless steel pots held the fresh leaves.

2. Make the “Indigo Tea,” aka Dyebath
Robin placed the pots of leaves over propane burners. She poured 12 gallons of tap water into each pot (enough to cover the leaves with water) and lit the burners. The water was heated to 160º over a two-hour period. We used a long compost thermometer to keep track of the temperature.

At 145º you could smell the wilted copper-tinged leaves and see why the dyebath is referred to as “indigo tea.” When the tea was 160º, we cut the heat. We put on heat-resistant gloves and used a short rake to scoop out the leaves and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. The leaves went into the orange compost bucket. The tea stayed in the kettle.

We poured the tea through a sieve to remove dirt and debris.

Robin scooped up a jar of the tea to show us the desired color. The indican molecules had broken down into blueish-indoxyl and sugar.

The indoxyl will not stick to cloth in its current state. It needs to be chemically modified by alkalinizing it with ammonia, oxidizing it with oxygen until it becomes blue-green in color, and reducing it by adding sodium hydrosulfite and allowing it to rest until it becomes neon yellow. Here’s the play by play of that:

3. Alkalinization of the Dyebath
We raised the alkaline level from 7 (the pH of water) to 9 by adding household ammonia at the rate of 2 tablespoons/gallon of liquid used. Some people use baking soda, wood ash, or lye to accomplish this.

4. Oxidation of the Dyebath
Next, we oxidized the dyebath by introducing oxygen in the form of air. We scooped up and poured bucketfuls of dyebath over and over again for 20 minutes to add lots of air bubbles. The liquid turned a deep green-blue. During this process, the indoxyl is transformed into very fine insoluble blue particles. They still won’t stick to fiber in this state, but we’re getting there.

I found this image of workers in Asia adding oxygen to an indoxyl-laden dyebath at http://www.industryofallnations.com/Jeans-At-Industry-Of-All-Nations-ccid_80.aspx.

5. Reduction of the Dyebath
The next step is to reduce the dye molecules in the dyebath. To do this, a reducing agent like sodium hydrosulfite, Spectralite, or Rit Color Remover is added at a rate of 1 tablespoon/gallon of water. Robin had us gently stir in the first two tablespoons of the reducing agent and sprinkle in the rest to not introduce more air. Reducing agents absorb electrons and transform the blue insoluble particles into a neon-yellow color that is now considered in solution. Cover the pot for the two hours it takes the reduction process to happen. The dyebath will look like this when it is ready to dye fibers.

While the mixture reduced, we had lunch. Lunch and dessert were prepared by Robin and her family. The amazing farm-to-table meal was scrumptious. Everyone was gushing. The meal included slow-roasted tomatoes that I loved. Here’s the recipe for them.

Time to Dye!
Before coming to the farm, Robin had asked us to wash the textiles we wanted to dye to remove all dirt and grease. She soaked them in warm water before we dyed them.

The pre-soaked textiles are now added slowly to the warmed dyebath (100-120º). Absolutely no stirring is allowed (to prevent another oxidation). The garments or yarn stay submerged for 15 minutes. It is during this soaking period that the textiles lose their color and become “indigo white” which is in fact, more like “neon-yellow.” The items are removed slowly along the side of the pot to diminish the chance of drips introducing air bubbles.

6. Re-Oxidation
As the textiles are removed, the yellowish indigo particles adhere and penetrate into the fabric’s crevices and transform into insoluble indigo blue as the air mingles with the dye and re-oxidizes it. To intensify the color, let the textiles rest and then redip for another 15 minutes to add more layers of color. Never leave items in the dyebath for more than 15 minutes per dip.

As the re-oxidizing is happening, you’ll see the fibers turn yellow, then green, then green-blue, and ultimately indigo blue. It’s kind of magical.

 

Give the yarn a bath in clean water and vinegar to set the color and then allow to dry. As an aside, notice the four ties spaced intermittently around each skein of yarn. That’s what keeps yarn from getting tangled while dyeing. In all of my years of knitting, I never considered why those ties were there.

I dyed yarn and this shirt.

I can’t thank Robin enough for her instruction and hospitality while we were with her. I urge anyone interested in learning more about this artform to sign up for one of Robin’s classes next year. You can find her here.

And so what did I do with my crop of indigo? Did I try this at home? You Betcha.

I harvested, weighed, and stripped the leaves, and stewed them in water to 160º.
  

I removed and strained the leaves, alkalinized the dyebath, oxidated it for 20 minutes, and finally, reduced it for 2 hours in the kitchen sink.
  

I unwound a ball of yarn, rewound it around a chair, and loosely tied it (so it wouldn’t leave marks), soaked it in the reduced dyebath for 15″, and later, rinsed it in a vinegar and water bath to fix the color.
 

The results were terrific. I dyed both skeins of blue yarn in the photo, one with indigo dye made at Robin’s workshop using her super fresh indigo leaves and the other, a lighter blue, in my sink using my not so fresh leaves (they had already flowered). I also over-dyed a gray linen shirt I had made for me in India. I love it!
 

Once you get started and have a sink full of dye, you start searching the house for things that would look good blue. These muslin dish towels painted for me by my beautiful friend, Mary Carter, were dingy and stained. Now they are a pretty indigo blue.

If it wasn’t time for dinner, I would have re-dipped everything to add another layer of color, instead, with a roomful of hungry family looking at me (it was now 6 pm – this took all day!), I opened the drain and let the dye go.

My favorite, most satisfying days are the ones where I get lost in a project and lose all sense of time. Trying my hand at making dye extracted from plants I grew in my yard provided for one of those exciting and memorable days. Please write a comment if you have anything to add to this epic post. I still have so much to learn about growing plants and making natural dyes.

A Good Book
For a good read about the history of indigo farming and dyeing in Colonial America, I suggest, The Indigo Girl, by Natasha Boyd. The book tells the story of Eliza Pinckney, who, as a young, industrious farmer learned to successfully grow indigo in South Carolina. It’s a page-turner.

One last indigo image: the inspiration for this indigo journey started during our trip to India in February. Little did I know, when I took this photo of an IndiGo Airlines bus from our airplane window in New Dehli, how far my curiosity about this rich color would take me.

Related Posts
Making Homemade Plant-Based Dyes
Group Project: A Shibori Dyed Quilt
Morning Rounds in the Garden, July
To Dye For: Making Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs
Learning How to Block Print in Jaipur (India, Part 2)
Shopping for a Saree in South India

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Remember to always check this website for updated versions of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

A Few Good Books

I am in a lively book club called The Book Hunters. We’ve been meeting the third Monday of every month since 1989. Most of us were new mothers when we started. Now, many of us are grandmothers. We used to meet in the morning and drink coffee. Now we gather in the evening and drink things other than coffee.

One of my favorite book club meetings happens in January when spouses or SO’s are invited to join us. We try to pick a book we think will generate a thoughtful and energetic discussion. Memorable books for this expanded gathering have been titles such as Endurance, Undaunted Courage, and The Road. Last year, we read The Sympathizer, a story about the Vietnam War as told by a Vietnamese counterspy. It was so informative, my husband and I went back and watched the Ken Burns Series, The Vietnam War to get more context. This year, we are reading A Murder in Music City.

Once a year,  the Book Hunters get together for a luncheon and instead of discussing one book we come prepared with suggestions for the next year’s list. Afterward, a group of us get together and attempt to whittle down the selection to eleven books. At that meeting, we assign books to each other to read so we can get more opinions about specific books. A month later, we get together again and hear each other’s thoughts on the assignments. We book-lovers long for superlatives like “I loved it” or “I couldn’t put it down” or ” I learned so much” or “It’s beautifully written.” If the readers have high praise for a book, it’s in.

Yesterday, we left that second meeting super excited about the reading list we had come up with. When my mother was alive, I would always send her a copy of the list after this meeting. These days I email it to my friend, Gayl, in Napier, NZ where she shares it with friends in her book club, Chooks & Books. Gayl also sends me book recs that the Chooks have enjoyed. One of them, On the Edge of the Orchard, was read by our book club last March. The discussion that ensued was one of the best. For me, that’s the beauty of reading, sharing, and discussing books together; you get a glimpse into the soul of others when you hear what moved them about a story.

Here’s our list.

September: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman (2017)

“Beautifully written and incredibly funny, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is about the importance of friendship and human connection. I fell in love with Eleanor, an eccentric and regimented loner whose life beautifully unfolds after a chance encounter with a stranger; I think you will fall in love, too!” —Reese Witherspoon

October: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (2017)

“Beginning in 1910 during the time of Japanese colonialization and ending many decades later in 1989, Pachinko is the epic saga of a Korean family told over four generations. The family’s story starts with Hoonie, a young Korean man born with physical deformities, but whose destiny comes from his inner strength and kindness. His daughter, rather than bring shame on her family, leaves their homeland for Japan, where her children and grandchildren will be born and raised; yet prejudice against their Korean heritage will prevent them from ever feeling at home. In Pachinko, Min Jin Lee says much about success and suffering, prejudice, and tradition, but the novel never bogs down and only becomes richer, like a sauce left simmering hour after hour. Lee’s exceptional story of one family is the story of many of the world’s people. They ask only for the chance to belong somewhere—and to be judged by their hearts and actions rather than by ideas of blood traits and bad seeds.” –Seira Wilson, The Amazon Book Review

November: Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)

“A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story that manages to be both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right.”―The New York Times

“An epic spanning thousands of years that’s also a keep-you-up-all-night page-turner.” — Ann Patchett

December: Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal (2015)

“I started this on Sunday and finished it on Monday. It was just one of those books that is filled with secrets of the past that you just have to know about and characters that you love as soon as you meet them and then you love them more as the author lets you see who they are.” Angela M for Goodreads. 

“A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets.” —Goodreads

January Couples Dinner: A Murder in Music City  by Michael Bishop (2017)

“Nashville 1964. Eighteen-year-old babysitter Paula Herring is murdered in her home. A few months later a judge’s son is convicted of the crime. Decades after the slaying, Michael Bishop, a private citizen, stumbles upon a secret file related to the case and with the help of some of the world’s top forensic experts–including forensic psychologist Richard Walter (aka “the living Sherlock Holmes”)–he uncovers the truth. What really happened is completely different from what the public was led to believe. In this true-crime page-turner, the author lays out compelling evidence that a circle of powerful citizens were key participants in the crime and the subsequent cover-up.” —Amazon

February: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall, Denver Moore, and Lynn Vincent (2008)

“A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery. An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel. A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream. A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it. It begins outside a burning plantation hut in Louisiana . . . and an East Texas honky-tonk . . . and, without a doubt, in the heart of God. It unfolds in a Hollywood hacienda . . . an upscale New York gallery . . . a downtown dumpster . . . a Texas ranch. Gritty with pain and betrayal and brutality, this true story also shines with an unexpected, life-changing love.” –Amazon

March: My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie (2018)

“A general’s daughter…Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A Founding Father’s wife…But the union they create–in their marriage and the new nation–is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all–including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle–to understand the flawed man she married and the imperfect union he could never have created without her…”  –Amazon

April: A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee (2000)

“A Gesture Life is the story of a proper man, an upstanding citizen who has come to epitomize the decorous values of his New York suburban town. Courteous, honest, hardworking, and impenetrable, Franklin Hata, a Japanese man of Korean birth, is careful never to overstep his boundaries. Yet as his story unfolds, precipitated by the small events surrounding him, we see his life begin to unravel. Gradually we learn the mystery that has shaped the core of his being: his terrible, forbidden love for a young Korean Comfort Woman when he served as a medic in the Japanese army during World War II.” —Penguin Random House

May:  Known as our “Free Read” luncheon where everyone gives suggestions for the next year’s book list.

June: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (2017)

“Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals—in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country—Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.” —Penguin Random House

July: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Women by Balli Kaur Jaswal (2018)

“Nikki, a modern daughter of Indian immigrants, has spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.  The proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn English, not short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of erotica and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories that they’ve held in for far too long. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing the creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.  As the class grows, a group called the Brothers, who have appointed themselves Southall’s “moral police,” threaten to reveal the class’s scandalous stories and the mysterious secrets lurking beneath this seemingly sedate, tight-knit community.” —Harper Collins

August: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (2018)

“With Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan—who dazzled readers with her Pulitzer Prize-winning, A Visit from the Goon Squad—spins a classic historical novel. Classic in the sense that it’s virtually impossible to put down. Classic in its sepia-toned portrait of New York: set on the Brooklyn docks during World War II, when mobsters ruled, the war loomed, and a young girl dove her way into becoming the first female diver on the squad. Classic in its quintessentially satisfying characters: crooked gangsters, disappearing fathers, gritty sailors, and an intrepid young woman equally at home in a 200-pound diving suit and a green silk dress who unites them all. Classic in its revelation of the dangerous, altruistic and nefarious choices people make to support their family, their country and themselves. Manhattan Beach is classic in all of its American glory. “—Al Woodworth, Amazon

Since writing this post, friends havebeen sending the names of books they have read and loved. I’m starting a running list:

Educated, by Tara Westover. “I highly recommend it,” wrote three different people. I didn’t care for it.
Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste NgQuick and thought-provoking. Story takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio. I loved it.
The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan. WW2 from the viewpoint of the Italians. I loved it.
4 3 2 1: A Novel, by Paul Auster.
The Overstory, by Richard Powers. Nine interlocking fables about trees & people. Reading it now..

Related Stories involving The Book Hunters:
WWMD? A Bucket of Spring Veggies as a Centerpiece
A Quick and Easy Baked Hummus and Feta Appetizer

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Pecan Picking in Mississippi (and recipes to go with them)

Years ago, when my family and I were traveling in Sicily, we came across a grove of nude trees surrounded by layers of stacked bark. We pulled off the road to examine the naked trees and figured out we were driving through a cork oak forest. Cork trees can be stripped of their bark every nine years to make products like wine corks. In fact, the next time you have an all-natural cork, count the number of lines across the top — that will tell you how many years the grower waited between bark harvests. I wrote a story about it here. Before seeing this grove, I had never considered where cork came from.

The same is true for pecans. Until recently, I never considered how pecans grew and were later harvested.

My curiosity was sparked a few weeks ago when I saw a video on Instagram of my friend, yoga teacher Mary Thorstad, picking pecans off the lawn of her parents’ home in Georgia using a quaint collecting device.

Mary described how much she delighted in the idea of picking edible food off the ground. She said the pecans were like treasures waiting to be found, like manna from heaven. It is a task she has enjoyed doing since childhood. I remember wondering if all pecans were harvested from the ground, or if this device was a child’s way of picking up a few fallen pecans.

This past weekend, my husband and I visited friends in Como, Mississippi. Como borders the Mississippi Delta to the west, Oxford to the southeast, and Memphis to the north.

We arrived late in the evening. As we drove up the driveway, my husband commented on the stately old oak and pecan trees that lined the moonlit driveway. Later, he asked our friends, Denise and Sledge Taylor, about the trees and whether they picked the pecans. They proceeded to tell us a few delightful stories about townspeople coming by to pick pecans over the years. Sledge said it was not uncommon to come home to find a sack of pecans on their front porch. It meant someone had come by and picked pecans for themselves and, as a token of appreciation, picked a sack for the tree-owners. Denise told us that once they came home to find homemade pecan pies on their front porch instead of the customary gunny sack. They were thrilled. I thought I’d be pleased with the sack of pecans, but that was when I had the misperception that people harvested pecans by climbing trees and using specialty pole-pickers to harvest them, a job I was not prepared to do.

Then I learned pecans were harvested off the ground even when grown commercially. Pecans grow inside a husk in clusters at the ends of branches. As the husk matures, it splits open and the nut drops out. In commercial orchards, farmers use a mechanical tree-shaker to nudge the tree into dropping their nuts. After they fall, large-scale sweepers are brought in to collect them.

Sensing how taken I was with seeing pecan trees for the first time, Sledge drove us to a commercial pecan orchard with acres of mature trees. The trees were planted on a grid. The oldest were planted in the 1890s on a 60′ x 60′ grid. The younger trees were planted in the 1940s on a 45′ x 45′ grid. Sledge said they plant them even closer now. We loved that whichever direction we viewed them from the trees lined up both in rows and on the diagonal. Truly, a marvel to behold.

Meanwhile, we harvested 8.5 pounds of nuts from Sledge and Denise’s driveway using this sweeper device.

It looks and works a lot like a tennis ball sweeper.

Sledge said not to pick pecans that still had their husks on as the husk would keep the shell moist and the nut inside would likely be rotten.

After we arrived back in Nashville,  I immediately set about picking the pecan meat out of the shells. It took every bit of two hours to pick through our stash of nuts. I ended up with almost two pounds of tender, tasty pecan meats. Manna from heaven, indeed.

It was tedious work. Granted, the tools I used were not for industrial use. They were more like cocktail party fare from the Fifties.

As I write this a few days later, except for my stained and scratched up fingers, I’ve forgotten about how tedious it was cleaning out each shell. But, man oh man, as I was in the midst of shelling, I remember thinking, I get why Denise was happy to get the homemade pies.

Thanks to our hosts, Denise and Sledge Taylor who live on a beautiful farm in the “hill country” a place with never-ending vistas of pastures and planted fields. This photo was taken at their cotton gin. That’s a whole nother story!

Tried and True Recipes Calling for Pecans

Mrs. Walker’s Cranberry Nut Pie (served two ways)
 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding (served two ways)
 

Cranberry and Hot Pepper Jelly Brie Bites

Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney

Fruit and Nut Bread

Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola

Oat, Sorghum, Ginger, and Cranberry Cookies

I thought about The Pecan Man, a novel by Casey Dandridge Selleck while writing this post. The story takes place in a small Southern town in Florida. The main character is a spunky, well-respected, and charming woman who tries to do right by a homeless man who picks pecans from lawns in the 1970s. The audiotape has an excellent reader.

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Applesauce or Apple Pie?

It’s apple season! There are so many beauties out there right now that every time I go near a farm stand, I pick a few more to add to my stash.

Have I mentioned how much I adore color and texture? It doesn’t matter if it’s in food, as in a bowl of apples

or tomatoes.

Or yarn, as in this painting of my yarn stash created by my friend Kim Barrick. It makes no difference to me. I love it all. They each bring me joy.

Unlike yarn, which can last beyond a lifetime as in the case of my adorable mother’s yarn stash,

when I get too many apples I’ve got to act. Pie or applesauce? If the skins have started to wrinkle and the bruises have started to show, I make applesauce. Otherwise, it’s Mom’s Apple Pie with Cheddar Streusel Topping. No contest.

Even the ingredients are photogenic!

Apple Sex

The core of an apple is actually the apple’s ovary. It is usually divided into five chambers containing two ovules (where the female DNA is stored) each. If the ovules are pollinated with male DNA in the form of pollen grains, the apple will mature into a well-developed fruit. A fully pollinated apple will contain ten seeds. The number of seeds is directly related to how many grains of pollen have traveled from the stigma, down the style to the ovum in the ovary on the apple’s blossom. The apple needs a minimum of 6-7 seeds to set fruit, or it will not grow to maturity. The pollen is carried by pollinators from other nearby varieties of apples in the orchard.

Mother Nature ensures the survival of the apple tree species by making the flesh sweet and tasty so squirrels and deer will want to eat the fruit and disperse the seeds widely.

While in Hasting’s New Zealand, we had the pleasure of visiting our friends Annette and Rufus Carey’s Longland’s Fruit and Vegetable and Christmas Tree Farm.

I loved seeing their neat system for growing rows of apple trees.

Having an apple orchard is on my bucket list.

How to make Apple Sauce

The following kitchen tools might be helpful:

To make applesauce, peel three pounds of apples and remove brown spots. Three pounds of apples equal about 9 medium apples or 7-8 cups sliced.

Use an apple corer (ovary remover – ewww) to prep the slices.

Or, if you have a spiralizer, use it.

Add the apple slices to a saucepan with about 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove lid and simmer 10 more minutes. Use a potato masher to pulverize the chunks, if desired.

   

You could leave the peel on, but know that it will separate from the apple as it cooks and has a tendency to stick to the roof of your mouth. That’s one of the reasons I always peel apples for my grandson, the skin can be a choking hazard for babies.

You can add cinnamon and sugar if you’d like, but applesauce is plenty sweet and flavorful unadorned.

Consider putting aside ½ cup of applesauce to use in Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Bread.

One More Seque!

How about a great book to read this Fall about an American pioneering family in the 1800s who struggle to plant an apple orchard in Ohio? At The Edge Of The Orchard, by Tracy Chevalier, is such a book.  I love how John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) plays into the story as well as the science of bark-grafting apple limbs. I’m grateful to my dear friend, Gayl Squire, a teacher in Napier, NZ, for buying me a copy of this book to read while we were visiting them.

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe.

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.