Frozen Apples

 

Paint

I went for a crunchy walk in the crystaline white woods to see how things are faring now that Winter is upon us in earnest.

The thermometer showed five degrees (-15 C) as I paused by the side of the car to pile on an extra layer, decide on the hood instead of the hat, and hoist my camera pack onto my back. I was facing a predicted high of twelve measly degrees (-11 C), but with light winds and a chance for a fair bit of sunshine, it looked like a good day to be out in the world.

The snow was about ten inches deep – fluffy, powdery, swishy and brilliantly white in the sunshine. I quickly turned off the trail and dropped over the side of the ridge to get into the trees.

I happened upon an overturned van that I had not visited in a couple of years. It lays on its side crumpled up against a tree with various parts scattered around it – a wheel here a fender there. Very little of its original paint is left; replaced by a rich brown rust oozing out from the bullet holes.

I moved on until I ran into the trail again as it curved across my path running on top of a little spine as it plunges downward into the big ravine. I decided to follow it down.

At really steep sections my footsteps would cause little avalances ahead of me. Tiny coins of snow, some no bigger than a nickle, rolled mousey lines over the wind smoothed snow. I started kicking up snow on purpose just to see how far I could get them to roll before they fell over sideways or ran into trees. The smaller ones usually went the farthest. The bigger heavier ones would quickly bog down, lose speed, and flop over like that guy on the tricycle in the old “Laugh In” TV shows.

There wasn’t much happening down at the ravine floor since the stream was almost completely frozen over. Which left me with a stiffish climb back up the hill with the added bonus of a layer of ice under the snow in the more exposed areas of the trail. Falling became a regular thing – usually followed up with an alarmingly fast backward slide ending abruptly against a tree trunk. I should have expected this since a good part of the trip down was spent skiing on my feet or sliding on my hip. At least the struggle warmed me up.

Apple tree

Finally back on top of the hill I took a break to examine an apple tree. I was surprised to see that it was still heavy with apples. I expected a few stragglers sure, but this was like a full crop still holding out against the winter winds. Animals had trampled and dug a wide circle all the way around the bole of the tree as they hunted for fallen apples and maybe if they could stretch their necks just a little farther they could grab some off the branches.

I was thinking that the apples couldn’t be any good anymore and that the deer and the squirrels were pretty desperate to eat them. After all they had hung on the tree for weeks in sub-freezing weather. They had turned an interesting, but not very appetizing bronzy brown color and I assumed that the insides were all brown and mushy and rancid. Au contraire! A little Internet research would prove me wrong.

Not only are frozen apples good fodder for birds and animals, they can even be made into something called ice cider (or ice apple wine) in much the same way as frozen grapes can become ice wine. Quebec apple growers were some of the first to apply the ice wine concept to apples. Here are links to a couple of articles on the subject; Canada and CBC.  You can go to Domaine Pinnacle to see some of their ice apple wine products.

I decided that I had better take a closer look at a frozen apple. I went out to an apple tree that grows next to the house and picked up a recently fallen apple. It seemed impervious as stone at first, but I found that it would dent if I pressed on it hard enough. I took it inside and easily cut out a wedge.

Frozen Apples

The flesh inside had some veins of brown running through it, but didn’t look too bad. It wasn’t soft and mushy and blech nor was it tough and dense like a fresh apple – it was grainy with small crystals almost like damp compressed sugar.

I tasted a piece. It still tasted like an apple, but lighter, more subtle. The sharp “in your face” apple-y tartness of a fresh apple was smoothed out by lots of sweetness. The freezing and aging process concentrates the natural sugars. After warming for thirty minutes or so, I could squeeze the apple in my hand to release a clear thick syrup which I believe is what gets used in making ice cider. Interesting.

As the saying goes; you learn something everyday.

MDW

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4 Responses to “Frozen Apples”

  1. Nutrition Facts Says:

    […] Frozen Apples « Forest Rat […]

  2. Nutrition Facts, Apples | Nutrition Facts Says:

    […] Frozen Apples « Forest Rat […]

  3. lookingforbeauty Says:

    ForestRat,
    The photos are great! I am very partial to that sky blue; and there is something universally loved in the rust colours. Being opposites on the colour wheel, they sing when they sit together, even creating some simultaneous contrast – that effect you get when the eye can’t handle the juxtaposition of the opposite colours and so the edges appear to scintillate and shimmer.
    The branches in these two images have such lovely rhythm to them.
    K

  4. Marshall McHenry Landscaping & Tree Farm Says:

    My neighbor has several old red apple trees that we pick every fall and I have been wanting to prune and clean them up sometime when I got the chance. I finally got around to it the last week in january 2011. There are still many apples in the trees and while mashing several while pruning I couldnt help but notice how sweet they smelled. The last day I was working on them it got up to 70 degrees and the bees were all over them . As an experiment I picked a 5 gallon bucket full and tonight I mashed them and strained the sauce through a t shirt. The results are amazing . The juice is thick and syrupy and tastes slightly alcoholic . I think it could pass for pancake syrup maybe a little thin. Anyway Im pretty excited about my new discovery . If you ever see apples clinging to the tree in late winter that resemble baked apples give it a go. It’s fun and quirky like ice fishing.

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