Apples. This year, we are expecting a lot of them.
Apple pie, apple crisp and apple cobbler. Sauce, butter and cider, all made with apples. Caramel apples, dried apple rings and the kid’s favorite: apple/raspberry fruit leather. Heck, I’ve even had an apple martini or two.
The annual (and audible) ritual that is the running of the dehydrator will soon arrive in our kitchen, as the continual hum of its fan will be our 24/7 sound machine. And I don’t even have an apple tree in my yard – that’s how many trees are loaded this year. People will be giving them away.
If you have an apple tree (or two, or 10) and can’t quite use them all yourself, La Plata County has some great resources for you to share your bounty.
One of the best ways to work the apple exchange is to visit www.fruitglean.org and either sign up your tree to be picked or check out the list of trees that need picking. A partnership among Healthy Community Food Systems, the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center, the Colorado State University Extension Office and Bear Smart Durango established this fruit gleaning hub, which is an online bulletin board that connects residents desiring fruit with those who have fruit available for harvesting. There are lots of apple trees in the area, especially in Durango. Here is a way to reduce potential human-bear interactions while using local fruit that may otherwise go to waste.
Here at the Extension Office, we will again partner with Cooking Matters for the annual Produce Bounty during the third weekend of September. We will be accepting fruits and vegetables from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 16-18 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave. As a reminder, this is a great opportunity to have others in our community experience the joy of fresh fruits and vegetables, as all produce will be distributed to participants during the Commodity Foods event Sept. 19. We’ve been doing this for a while, and every year, I’m speechless at how our local farmers and gardeners donate thousands of pounds of food to those in need.
The Apple Days celebration will be held Oct. 2 in Buckley Park. Now in its ninth year, the festival is one of Durango’s favorites. It’s full of simple, family fun, including music from Stillwater Music, apple pressing, apple pies, caramel apples and lots of other local food and produce, along with the infamous apple pie eating contest. We hope to fill the park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with hundreds of pounds of local apples. We pick about 4,000 pounds and pile them in the park the night before to start pressing fresh apple juice for the festival.
If you want to store excess apples, they are best kept cold, around 32 degrees, with high relative humidity and some air circulation. Those environmental conditions can be challenging to find in our climate, but a root cellar, a below-ground garage or an insulated (but not heated) barn or storage shed can be an acceptable location.
So continue to enjoy the year’s bounty, as peaches, cherries, apricots, plums, pears and apples have all been in abundance. And remember: “The more we share, the more we have.”
Except with wildlife. If you don’t have fruit on your tree, then the aforementioned bear won’t destroy the aforementioned tree.
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.