It’s hard, but somebody’s got to do it! Oh how easy it would be to let all those gorgeous fruitlets grow to fruition, smile smile. They look so beautiful and full of potential. It seems to go against nature in a certain sense to not let them fulfill their destiny, but alas…we are growing for great, intensely flavorful, and optimally healthy fruit. Which means, with deep regret and the sincerest of apologies , not all them apples are meant to make it. We thin heavily this time of the year, especially after a fantastic fruit set like we had this spring.
Right now when we go out into the orchard, we’re approaching most of our trees with this in mind; for every cluster of fruit we’ll only keep the fullest, most healthy looking one or two of the group. Snip snip snip go our fingers. Beautiful miniature fruits fall down to the cushioning mulch below, some even landing on our old leather work boots. The colors are amazing, something in between the pink and rose of an almost opened blossom and the rich reds and greens of a fully ripened apple. It’s hard not to think in poetics out there in the orchard. And in that sense it does seem quite dreadful, snipping away at all these pretty little beauties. But we need to keep in mind the end result: a happy tree that sunlight and air can weave in and out of unhindered. We are not aiming for the highest quantity of apples but for the highest quality of apples. Apples that will allow us to make a cider that we can be proud of and humbled by.
And do not despair, Mother Nature, we honor you yet. Those apples growing in old hedgerows, in long forgotten woods, in abandoned orchards overtaken with ivy…we seek them out, we covet them. For while we grow the “best” apple varieties; old European cider apples, gorgeous and unique heirlooms, and unbelievably hearty new breeds with numbers for names, we wouldn’t be able to have that true magic in our cider without our dear gathered apples. Ooooh, gathering apples! Now there’s a whole other post in its self. What a hunt and a gleeful thing, to seek out the wild apples!