Many of the homes in my neighbourhood were built in the first half of the 20th century. Those were times when homes were often modest in size, yards were spacious, and fruit trees were planted as a matter of course. More and more often, when new owners purchase these houses the fruit trees are cut down to make room for driveways, for decks, or for additions to the house but, even so, our neighbourhood is rich with fruit in the late summer and early fall. Right now, my daily walks take me past plum trees of many sorts, and past trees heavily laden with Transparent apples.
In my grandmother’s day, Transparent apples were prized because they are among the earliest of apples to ripen. They are a “summer apple,” with a thin skin and tart flavour. They don’t keep well but they do make wonderful pies and applesauce. Having a Transparent apple tree in the yard afforded a homemaker the opportunity to use apples in combination with wild blackberries and other summer fruits; fruits that would not be available when the fall apple crop was ready for picking. In times before commercially processed pectin was readily available, the addition of some apples to a pot of jam or jelly helped to assure that the finished product would set to the desired texture. And, of course, any opportunity to put by applesauce was a good one. Applesauce was (and still is at my house) much in demand for both table service and for baking.
It seems that many of my neighbours don’t know what to do with their Transparent apple crop, or perhaps they lack the time to take advantage of this fruit. There are fallen apples lying on the lawns of many of the homes I walk past every day. Since I do know what to do with these apples, I’ll be knocking on doors tomorrow to ask if I can take the windfalls. Waste not, want not. I know a good thing when I see it.