Saturday, August 28, 2010

Microwave Applescauce with Children

A heavy wind blew in a cooler weather front, this week. It also blew most of the apples off our trees.

So, even though I would have preferred to leave them on the tree, to ripen for another week, or two, we decided it was apple picking time.

The little ones gathered the apples from the ground, while the taller, older children, cleared the last few from the trees.

At first, they were upset to find many of the apples had worm holes. I explained to them, that we had not sprayed the trees with any chemicals to kill the bugs (I wish I could say it was out of a desire for organic living, and not just laziness), but that we could cut those parts away, and use the rest.

They were still a little uncertain, but they helped me wash them, and supervised as I cut them up. We did have a few close encounters with the yucky little fellows, but still ended up with a nice sized bowl of good, worm free, slices.

They sampled the slices, but decided they were on the sour side. So, I sent the older children off to the library to find apple themed books, while the little ones, helped me turn our slices into applesauce, and watched the Johnny Appleseed portion of Disney's American Legends (you can find it on YouTube, here).

To our apples (about 5 or 6 cups worth), we added 1/2 cup of water...

...two sprinkles of nutmeg, and three of cinnamon.

We covered the bowl, and microwaved it for 10 minutes.

Then, we smashed the apples, with a potato masher, and stirred in 1/2 cup of white sugar. I prefer brown sugar, but the children like the color of applesauce better, when it's made with white sugar.

Finally, we covered it again, and microwaved it for another 5 minutes.

The older children returned from the library, while the applesauce was cooling, with Steven Kellogg's Johnny Appleseed. It's different than the Disney version, but explains there are many different stories, some true, and some not so true, told about the man, each one exaggerated more than the next, and that's what makes them tall tales.

They also had Bernice Kohn's Apples a Bushel of Fun & Facts, which told us, that most of the apple trees planted by Johnny Chapman a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed, would not have had apples, that were good to eat. Because, of the hybrid nature of apple trees, you never know what kind of tree will grow from an apple seed, even if the apple it came from was sweet, and delicious. Instead, apple trees need to have good branches grafted on, once they are grown.

This was a fact I knew vaguely, from having visited my great-grandfather's apple orchard as a child, but that the children, who have only ever seen apple seedlings, already grafted, and ready for planting, at the nursery, did not. Now we're more anxious than ever to see the trees in our windowsill orchard, mature, so we can find out if their apples will be good, or bad.

Oh, and the apple sauce turned out beautifully, and made the perfect accompaniment to the breakfast-for-dinner, the Man of the House had planned for our Friday night fare.

Find out what others have been reading this week, at the What My Child Is Reading blog hop, hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

I loved reading this post. I loved hearing how you involved all of the children in the best way for their age/level. I love it when large families work together like this. The applesauce recipe sounds so simple. We have some apples...we just might have to try this. Thank you again for sharing all your gifts.

Debbie said...

This post made me think back to when I was making applesauce, my mom use to always ask me what my secret ingredient was that made my applesauce taste so good. I use to chuckle nutmeg, she didn't want to buy it. Yummy you made me hungry for homemade applesauce.

Unknown said...

Oh, I LOVE this recipe! We are, in fact, going apple picking later this week, at an orchard that let's you come and do it for FREE!!! I will be having the kiddos help with this recipe, and we will most definitely be checking out some of the other resources you listed...

Thank you for doing my lesson plans for me! :0)

LitLass said...

We love making applesauce! I'll have to check out that Johnny Appleseed book.

Ticia said...

Our attempt at growing apple trees did not succeed. We were wondering if a cold winter is neccessary.

Unknown said...

This is a very nice read. I will be doing this activity. Your children did a wonderful job!! Thanks for sharing.

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

What a beautiful family time! Loved the story and the photos!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

This reminded me that autumn is just around the corner. One of our favorites this week is a pumpkin book - time to switch from beach and ocean :) Applesauce from your own tree - nice life!