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Archive for the ‘Moonshinery’ Category

Hi, misfits!  Today I want to introduce you to an overlooked and underappreciated character on this blog.  Everyone?  Take a good look at those photos up there, and say hi to Crap Table.

Hi, Crap Table!

Crap table is old and rickety and faux-ish wooden and scratched-up and borrowed, but it’s quite the trooper and it does the job.  In fact, the half-Jew in your BMG might even go so far as to call it a Real Mensch.

Real Crap Mensch Table.

Well, now that you all know Real Crap Mensch Table, I’d like to get to the real reason I called you all here today…

Real Crap Mensch Table has a serious wood glue problem, and this is an intervention.

No, wait, that wasn’t right…why were we here again?

Oh, right, we’re moonshining again!  Twist your arms, why don’t I?

You just know you’ve got some melon on its last legs sitting in your fridge taking up valuable space.  And that unstoppable Robocop garden mint (unsurprisingly, not the first time I’ve compared a plant to Robocop) needs its ranks thinned out SOMEHOW since apparently the cold weather is doing NOTHING to dampen its spirits (GOD COLD WEATHER WHY YOU SO LAZY YOU NO HELP ME NONE).

So why not do what we always do in times like these, Pinky?

What is it we always do in times like these, you ask?

Why, we band together and we moonshine!  We moonshine for all we’re worth.  We moonshine to prove to the bad guys–NAY–to ourselves, that we will not be defeated.  Because united we stand, divided we fall, but when we come together to moonshine, we stand up and then fall and then repeat the process again and again!

Kinda makes me tear up just thinkin’ about it.

**I’m linking to a reliable source for any optional special equipment or ingredients, and am telling you when there’s a  free alternative. Before settling, though, consider that most of this stuff is surprisingly dirt-cheap, SIGNIFICANTLY easier, and will last you.  Why not invest in your future as a slutty moonshiner?**

Homemade Watermelon Mint Wine
Makes 1 Gallon

Go Get:
a buncha water
3 lbs. honey or 6 cups sugar
4 lbs. watermelon cubes, seeded (yes, I am ruining your whore-tastic manicure)
1 cup packed mint leaves
juice of 3 freshly-squeezed lemons (don’t use the preserved stuff in the bottle)
1/2 cup strong black tea
1 packet wine yeast
OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. yeast nutrient
OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme (gobbles up the suspended pectin to prevent the formation of snotty-looking ropes and haze in your wine)

Special Stuff you’ll want to have on hand:
*A primary fermenter: 1 gallon glass jug, crock, or food grade bucket–recycled wine jugs are, obviously, perfect for this
*An auto-siphon with tubing for transferring the wine from the fermenter to the bottles without kicking up sediment; you can also just use about 4 feet of clear, plastic tubing if you’re willing to siphon manually.  If you REALLY don’t care about wine clarity or the potential for off flavors, you can use a kitchen ladle to separate wine from sediment, but you’ll need a wide-mouthed fermenter, like a bucket or crock.
*Bottles for the finished wine: 5 750-ml wine bottles (recycled is fine), or a 1 gallon wine jug, or swing-top beer growlers; if you’re not using wine bottles fitted for a screw top, make sure you have the corks for sealing them.  Sanitized, plastic 2-liter soda bottles aren’t ideal, but they’ll also work as long as you cover them to keep out light–you’ll need about 2 2-liter bottles
*A fine mesh sieve for straining the pureed fruit
*OPTIONAL: A hydrometer (not necessary, but it’ll help you figure out how alcoholic your wine is and how far along the fermentation is)
*OPTIONAL: Airlock (this keeps air from getting to your wine while still letting CO2 from the fermentation escape–you can also use plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal, though results are not as secure
*OPTIONAL: Rubber bung (heh heh…bung) to seal the fermentation jug (if you’re using one) and have a place to stick the airlock-if you’re using a fermentation bucket, the airlock can go into a pre-drilled hole in the lid. If you’re not using an airlock, do that plastic wrap/rubber band thing.

*OPTIONAL: Candy or meat thermometer (highly recommended)

Go Do:


Clean, rinse, and sanitize all tools, spoons, etc.–basically anything that is going to be touching the wine and isn’t getting boiled needs to be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized.  See my post on doing that for the products and processes you’ll want to use.

Puree watermelon and mint in batches in a food processor.  The resulting mixture will be thin and soupy (about 9 1/2 cups).  Put it in a large pot with 2 cups water and all the honey or sugar.

Heat until very hot, but not boiling (185 degrees), and hold it at that temp for half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and let it cool down to room temperature (70 degrees F).

Pour the hot fruit mixture through the fine mesh sieve into a sanitized bowl or pot.

Toss the pulp into the compost heap, or find a fun use for it and share your idea with the class.  Now stir in the lemon juice, tea, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme, if using.

Cool the mixture to room temperature (you can set the mix over an ice water bath, as shown, to speed the cooling process), and pour into the fermenter.

If the wine doesn’t fill the 1 gallon fermenter to within a few inches of the top, add water from the spare water pot (the one you boiled and cooled) and stir.  Take a reading with your hydrometer if you’re using one–write the number down for later (mine was 1.113).

Now take a half cup of the spare pot water and sprinkle on the yeast packet.  Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the yeast to reacclimate.  Then throw the yeast mixture on top of the wine mixture.  No need to stir, the yeast does a good job of that.

Now put in the rubber bung (heh heh) and airlock (or put on the lid and airlock, or use some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band).  Make sure you half fill the airlock with water to make it effective.  You may want to set the fermenter in a larger bucket in case there’s spillover during fermentation.  Put the whole deal in a dark, room-temp location.

Now we wait.  We let the yeast do their thing, periodically checking to make sure there’s still water in the airlock.  Over the next week or two, you’ll hear lots of bubbling and gurgling going on and will see bubbles coming out the airlock.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Then things slow down and yeast die and drop to the bottom of the fermenter–ah, sediment, can’t live with you, can’t live withou–actually, I just can’t live with you.

Anyhow.  If you were an advanced winemaker, you’d transfer the wine to secondary and tertiary fermenters, but it’s not strictly necessary, and I’d like to keep things simple for you beginners.  Leave the wine in that fermenter for about 2 months–the wine should have stopped fermenting and will hopefully have cleared itself (if you didn’t use pectic enzyme, or let the mixture boil, it may never clear completely).

At this point, a hydrometer really comes in handy to know how much sugar, if any, is left in the wine.  If the yeast have eaten all the sugar, you can safely bottle your wine.  Use this handy online calculator to figure out the final alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  You can test-sample, but fair warning, IT WILL BE HARSH AND PUNISHING, MISFITS.  Worry not, it shall improve immeasurably with time.  Just.  Like.  Us.

Now use your sterilized auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenter (on a table or counter) to your sanitized wine bottles (on the floor), being sure to leave the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.  If you’re using plastic tubing, set one end in the primary fermenter, the other end in your mouth–suck until the wine siphons up into the tube and quickly stick it into the secondary fermenter to catch the wine in time.  Then send me a video of you sucking on the tube.  If you’re ladling, well, ladle away!  You’ll have to leave enough space at the top of the wine bottles for sealing, about 2 inches.

Now seal using a corker if you’re fancy or a rubber mallet and some bravery if you’re not, or just apply the swing tops or screw-tops.  Put the containers back into a cool, dark location, stored sideways if you used corks, and let your wine age for a minimum of six months–a year is even better.

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It’s like the friggin’ Basil-pocalypse around here, what with my Ungodly Popular Caprese Pasta Salad and pesto buttons.  But in case you haven’t had enough…

In case you love your basil so much you wanna drink it…

In case you love your basil SO much that you want it to make you drunk…

Strawberry Basil wine, bitches!

I sure hope you planted some late-season berries, and if not, I hope you’ve got some stowed in the freezer.  I plan on cleaning it out and getting you trashed.

You’re welcome!

Crank the stereo to 11 and join me on my journey to immortalize one of summer’s most fantastic flavor combinations in the most holy form known to mankind…

BOOZE.

**I’m linking to a reliable source for any optional special equipment or ingredients, and am telling you when there’s a  free alternative. Before settling, though, consider that most of this stuff is surprisingly dirt-cheap, SIGNIFICANTLY easier, and will last you.  Why not invest in your future as a slutty moonshiner?**

Homemade Strawberry Basil Wine
Makes 1 gallon

Go Get:
*a buncha water
*3 lbs. honey or 6 cups sugar
*4 lbs. strawberries, preferably organic or unsprayed (frozen works just fine, thaw ’em first)
*1 cup packed basil leaves
*juice of 1 lemon (don’t use the preserved stuff in the bottle)
*1/2 cup strong black tea
*1 packet wine yeast
*OPTIONAL: 1 tsp. yeast nutrient (makes stronger yeast and more problem-free fermentation)
*OPTIONAL: 1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme  (gobbles up suspended pectin to prevent the formation of snotty-looking ropes and haze in your wine)

Special Stuff you’ll want to have on hand:
*A primary fermenter: 1 gallon glass jug, crock, or food grade bucket–recycled wine jugs are, obviously, perfect for this
*An auto-siphon with tubing for transferring the wine from the fermenter to the bottles without kicking up sediment; you can also just use about 4 feet of clear, plastic tubing if you’re willing to siphon manually.  If you REALLY don’t care about wine clarity or the potential for off flavors, you can use a kitchen ladle to separate wine from sediment, but you’ll need a wide-mouthed fermenter, like a bucket or crock.
*Bottles for the finished wine: 5 750-ml wine bottles (recycled is fine), or a 1 gallon wine jug, or swing-top beer growlers; if you’re not using wine bottles fitted for a screw top, make sure you have the corks for sealing them.  Sanitized, plastic 2-liter soda bottles aren’t ideal, but they’ll also work as long as you cover them to keep out light–you’ll need about 2 2-liter bottles
*A fine mesh sieve for straining the pureed fruit
*OPTIONAL: A hydrometer (not necessary, but it’ll help you figure out how alcoholic your wine is and how advanced the fermentation is)
*OPTIONAL: Airlock (this keeps air from getting to your wine while still letting CO2 from the fermentation escape–you can also use plastic wrap and a rubber band to seal, though results are not as secure
*OPTIONAL: Rubber bung (heh heh…bung) to seal the fermentation jug (if you’re using one) and have a place to stick the airlock-if you’re using a fermentation bucket, the airlock can go into a pre-drilled hole in the lid. If you’re not using an airlock, do that plastic wrap/rubber band thing.
*OPTIONAL: Candy or meat thermometer (highly recommended)

Go Do:
Clean, rinse, and sanitize all tools, spoons, etc.–basically anything that is going to be touching the wine and isn’t getting boiled needs to be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized.  See my post on doing that for the products and processes you’ll want to use.

Puree the berries and the basil leaves in a food processor until it’s smoothie consistency (8 cups).

Put it in a large pot with 8 cups of water and all the honey or sugar.

Heat until very hot, but not boiling (185 degrees), and hold it at that temp for half an hour, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, boil a second pot of water and let it cool down to room temperature (70 degrees F).

Pour the hot fruit mixture through the fine mesh sieve into a sanitized bowl or pot.

Toss the pulp into the compost heap, or find a fun use for it and share your idea with the class.

Now stir in the lemon juice, tea, yeast nutrient, and pectic enzyme, if using.

Cool the mixture to room temperature and pour into the fermenter.

If the wine doesn’t fill the 1 gallon fermenter to within a few inches of the top, add water from the spare water pot (the one you boiled and cooled) and stir.  Take a reading with your hydrometer if you’re using one–write the number down for later (mine was 1.090, a little low for my liking, but then I accidentally dumped some of my wine stuff down the sink, and will pay the price in alcohol percentage points…crap!).

Now take a half cup of the spare pot water and sprinkle on the yeast packet.  Let it sit for ten minutes to allow the yeast to reacclimate.  Then throw the yeast mixture on top of the wine mixture.  No need to stir, the yeast does a good job of that.

Now put in the rubber bung (heh heh) and airlock (or put on the lid and airlock, or use some plastic wrap secured with a rubber band).  Make sure you half fill the airlock with water to make it effective.  You may want to set the fermenter in a larger bucket in case there’s spillover during fermentation.  Put the whole deal in a dark, room-temp location.

Now we wait.  We let the yeast do their thing, periodically checking to make sure there’s still water in the airlock.  Over the next week or two, you’ll hear lots of bubbling and gurgling going on and will see bubbles coming out the airlock.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Then things slow down and yeast die and drop to the bottom of the fermenter–ah, sediment, can’t live with you, can’t live withou–actually, I just can’t live with you.

Anyhow.  If you were an advanced winemaker, you’d transfer the wine to secondary and tertiary fermenters, but it’s not strictly necessary, and I’d like to keep things simple for you beginners.  Leave the wine in that fermenter for about 2 months–the wine should have stopped fermenting and will hopefully have cleared itself (if you didn’t use pectic enzyme, it may never clear completely).

At this point, a hydrometer really comes in handy to know how much sugar, if any, is left in the wine.  If the yeast have eaten all the sugar, you can safely bottle your wine.  Use this handy online calculator to figure out the final alcohol percentage of your finished wine.  You can test-sample, but fair warning, IT WILL BE HARSH AND PUNISHING, MISFITS.  Worry not, it shall improve immeasurably with time.  Just.  Like.  Us.

Now use your sterilized auto-siphon to transfer the wine from the fermenter (on a table or counter) to your sanitized wine bottles (on the floor), being sure to leave the sediment in the bottom of the fermenter.  (Here’s how to use an auto-siphon, if you’re not sure.  If you’re using plastic tubing, set one end in the primary fermenter, the other end in your mouth–suck until the wine siphons up into the tube and quickly stick it into the secondary fermenter to catch the wine in time.  Then send me a video of you sucking on the tube.  If you’re ladling, well, ladle away!)  You’ll have to leave enough space at the top of bottles for sealing, about 2 inches.

Now seal using a corker if you’re fancy or a rubber mallet and some bravery if you’re not, or just apply the swing tops or screw-tops.  Put the containers back into a cool, dark location, stored sideways if you used corks, and let your wine age for a minimum of six months–a year is even better.

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By Mila Zinkova. Edited by Alvesgaspar

Heya, moonshining misfits!

It’s time to hike up your fishnets and…

clean.

I know.  That doesn’t sound badass at all.  But if you want to make your own beer, wine, and spirits, you need to know how to do this stuff.  This post will be my resource for you

Whenever you’re making alcohol and dealing with the long-term process of fermentation, you’ll need to first cleanse, then rinse, then sanitize any equipment that isn’t getting boiled.  The results if you slack off could be grody, unsafe, and unpredictable.

Sometimes grody, unsafe, and unpredictable conditions make for good times!  Not in moonshining, though.

The Boy brews beer professionally, and he turned me onto a simple system that I love and use every time I make beer or wine.

Get three 5-gallon buckets from the hardware store.  Label the first “Cleansing,” the second “Rinsing,” and the third, “Sanitizing.”  Now let’s talk about the mixtures that go into each–you have “best” options, and you have “cheap-ass” options:

Cleansing
The best option: PBW or B-Brite diluted per the manufacturer’s instructions with HOT water.
The cheap-ass option: A bit of dish soap dissolved in HOT water, though it may leave a residue that can affect the finished product.

Rinsing
Fresh, HOT water.

Sanitizing
The best option: BTF Iodophor diluted per the manufacturer’s instructions with COLD water.
The cheap-ass option:  A mixture of unscented bleach and water –1 ounce bleach per 5 gallons of water.  After doing this, you should rinse with water again and again AND OH HOLY HELL AGAIN to eliminate any remaining chlorine smell.  For obvious reasons, I’m not a fan of the bleach method, but it works.

If filling buckets in your sink seems a bit unwieldy, do like we’ve done and buy a new garden hose and sink adaptor that you can attach to your faucet.  This gives you the flexibility to work anywhere in your kitchen, and prevents you from having to do so much lifting and spilling.

The Process (you may need to do this in batches):

1) Fill the three buckets with their appropriate mixtures (see above).

2) Put items into the cleanser solution, being sure to hold any hollow items under the surface until they expel enough air to sink.  For hoses and tubing, slowly insert one end into the mixture, then gradually drop its length into the bucket, snaking around the sides-this prevents air bubble formation and ensures proper coverage.  All sides of all pieces, including the insides, need to be in contact with the cleanser for at least a minute, 2-3 minutes being preferable.

3) Move the freshly cleansed items into the rinse bucket in the same thorough fashion, agitating the items until the cleanser is off (items won’t have that slippery soap feel anymore).

4) Drop the items into the sanitizer, again taking care to coat everything and prevent air bubbles, and leave them there for at least 3 minutes.

Whoohoo!  Now you’re about as clean as you dirty, dirty misfits are gonna get.  Who knew sanitizing could be such a turn-on?

Ready to make some booze-o-hol?  Okay!

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It's tinted because it's natural, bitches!

Misfits, your Bad Mama Genny can only suppress the Bad in her for so long.  And you knew it was only a matter of time before we revisited the propensity toward moonshining that I seem to have inherited.  So, dollfaces, get your doll-like game faces on because we’re makin’ gin!

Okay, but let’s back the moped up for a moment.  We’re doing all this without a still, because we’re not actually distilling our own hard liquor–that’s still illegal.  Jimmy Carter can only do so much.  Instead, we’re taking a cheap bottle of vodka, steeping it with aromatics, and using this process by Jeffrey Morgenthaler to filter the bejeezus out of it.  Thereby turning it into gin.

I know you’ll appreciate this recipe because you’re thrifty little misfits, yes you are!  After all, we needses our monies for important things.  Like fishnets.  And remote-control helicopters.  And more cheap alcohol.

The Boy and I deviated from Morgenthaler’s ingredients and instructions a bit, but I can’t tell you how I did it because it’s my secret and proprietary blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Wait–I’m not the Colonel!  I forgot.  Sometimes I forget and think I’m the Colonel.

So I’m totally telling you how we did it.  ‘Cause sharin’ recipes is just how I roll.  But feel free to do things in your own slammin’ way, kewpie dolls.  We used some different spices in different amounts, added a lavender infusion (can’t wait to try a lavender and lemongrass blend), chose booze strength differently, and blah blah blah.  If you’d like to do this Jeffrey’s way, see his post.

If you’d like to do this the Bad Mama Genny way…

hold tight, take a swig, crank up the Brian Eno, and for the sake of all that is good in this world, do NOT use a coaster, mmkay?

Okay!  Ingredients!

1 750mL bottle 80-proof vodka (don’t bother with anything too fancy until you’ve tweaked the recipe to your liking)
3 Tablespoons dried juniper berries
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried lavender flowers
5 teaspoons whole coriander, crushed lightly with the side of a chef’s knife
1 teaspoon dried orange peel
1 teaspoon dried lemon peel
1 small cinnamon stick, lightly crushed (I used the handle of a coffee scoop…you could also use a hammer, a rubber mallet, a heavy can, an obese domestic animal, etc.)
2 whole cardamom pods, crushed lightly with the side of a chef’s knife
A pitcher-style water filter system, with a brand, spanking new filter that’s been rinsed and prepped for use per the manufacturer’s instructions (this isn’t really an ingredient.  You will not be consuming the water filter.  This time.)

Directions!

Okay, so toss all those badass spices and flowers and stuff into a french press.  A jar works fine, too, it’ll just require an extra straining step with some cheesecloth later on.  French Press makes this easier.  French Press lets me be what I am.  Which is lazy.

Now you’re going to pour in the vodka…

Ooh, pretty.

And it’ll look like this.

Okay, so that was easy, right?  Well, not so fast, because the hardest part is coming.  THE WAITING.

Oh, god, the WAITING!  For about 10 days (Morgenthaler recommended a week, I believe in overkill).  You’ll live.  So just pass the time while your booze sits in a dark, room temperature place.  We used our fermentation room.

So!  Ten days later and this is what you have.

Mmm…floating stuffs and things.  Push the plunger down on your French Press (or strain the mixture into a jar through a cheesecloth-lined sieve)…

Give it a good sniff.  Smells like gin, right?!  Awesome!  Now here comes the water filter part.  Pour your booze-o-hol into the top of the pitcher (It should be mentioned that you will not want to use this filter for water ever again.  But that’s okay, every urban homestead needs a dedicated booze filter.)

It will filter once and look something like this.

Now wash out your French Press or jar and pour the booze back into it.

Rinse out your filter’s pitcher bowl thingy to remove sediment, and filter the booze a SECOND time–it’ll look something like this:

Now pour it back into the French Press or jar (feeling deja vu yet?).  At this point, a mischievous looking tiki cup may or may not appear next to your booze, depending on how Bad you’ve been in your misfittish life.

Apparently, I’ve been pretty Bad.

Now rinse the pitcher again, filter your magic juice a THIRD time, and continue to repeat the pitcher-rinsing and filtering until you’ve filtered it FIVE TIMES.

You now have gin.  TAH-DAH!!!!

Bottle it with snark.

Now collect another, different tiki cup and fill it with ice.  Do not ask yourself, “Self, why do I have such a number and variety of tiki cups?”  The answer is irrelevant, as one should not question the universe’s benevolence in such an impudent manner.

Have The Boy (ooh, a The Boy sighting!) cut up some lemon slices.

Observe the packaged elderflowers in the background.  They will be used to make elderflower champagne, for which you will soon be gifted with a recipe.  (I’ll also be teaching people how to make it, in person, at The Creative Connection event in St. Paul in September!  Sign up for my classes on pickling and fermenting!  Liberate the misfit inside of you!)

Okay, the monorail in my head just derailed.  Must need more gin.  So have somebody cut up lemon slices for you, and collect some sparkling beverage of sorts.  Mix some gin with the sparkly stuff, pour over ice, and garnish with lemon.

Ignore the sloppy-looking stuffed animals in the background.  They are totally trashed and we are trying to get them into a good rehab program, but these things can be slow-going, and you can’t rush the process of recovery.

Also, you don’t have to spring for SanPel.  It’s all Walgreens had on the Saturday night we decided to finish our gin.  I’m pretty sure this is not the kind of “emergency” the good people at Walgreens envisioned when they decided to go 24-hours.

Q: It’s 11:30 P.M.  Do you know where YOUR Bad Mama Genny is?

A: Making moonshine.  Yeah, that sounds about right.

The Boy: “Wait for the garnish!!  The garnish!!!  YOU CAN’T TAKE PHOTOS UNTIL I’VE PROPERLY GARNISHED.”

Zee Boy, he iz zee artiste.

So in sum:

MmmmmmmmmYESYESYESYESYES!  Our gin turned out DELICIOUS, cardamom-forward, floral from the lavender, and steeped with the exotic perfume of juniper berries.  And if you’re wondering how to use the extra juniper berries, why not save them and make a slab of homemade bacon?  I’ll post the recipe here in the near future, so stay tuned.

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Autumn is my favorite season, misfits…HANDS DOWN.

What does that mean, anyway, “hands down”?  Wouldn’t “hands up” imply more excitement, a la your Bad Mama Genny raises her hands in the air and waves them around in the manner of having nary a care?  But I digress.

Anyhoo, this crisp, clean fall air always makes me want to do one thing: sign a fetus over to Satan a la Rosemary’s Baby.

Oh, wait, that’s not right.

This crisp, clean fall air always makes me want to do one thing: apple picking. Probably some hangup from childhood, when I was raised by wolves and used to sleep in an apple tree so they wouldn’t accidentally tear me to pieces while dreaming about chasing bunnies.

Am I kidding or am I not, the world may never know.

But whatever my reason, there’s one thing that’s crystal clear to everybody: I will insist on picking in ridiculous quantities and any attempt to moderate my behavior will cause me to have a massive, dramatic, and scene-making seizure and then die in the naysayer’s arms.

Or maybe what happens is slightly less severe than that, but never you mind your pretty little heads about such details.

So The Boy and I spent a clear, luscious Sunday at the orchard climbing, lugging, juggling, falling over, causing ruckuses, and carefully considering how to maximize our bushel.  After loading our goods into the trunk (and just barely passing bag overfill inspection by some extremely scrupulous farmers who gave my fishnets a skeptical eye), we plotsed ourselves down onto a bench in a sunny spot of the orchard.  The two of us shared a cool pint of homemade cider and a few hot, fluffy apple cider doughnuts, fresh from the fryer.  These babies were fall personified.  If donuts were persons.  Fine, they were fall donuttified.

Mmm, donuttifying things.

Unexpected bonus: never had we inspired such fear and suspicion in our fellow New Yorkers as when they saw us approaching with our bushel of shiny new produce.

“Hark, it is the pale ones,” they said to themselves.

“But what of the crimson orbs the tall one carries?”

Or at least, that’s what I imagine they said–pedestrians passing by readily offered their comments, but they were rarely in English.  Of course, The Boy disagrees–he feels nothing but shame at what he assumes those landscapers were saying about his apples between enthusiastic whistles.

And so, having had the full reality of just how many apples we’d picked graciously driven home by our neighbors, I set to work making room in the refrigerator and brainstorming some applications.  Applesauce it was–but not the pale, sugary mess in a jar you might be used to seeing on store shelves. These apples didn’t need any sweetener at all.  They were sweet enough already.  They were well-behaved and chaste and good and OH JUST EVERYTHING THAT YOU AND I ARE NOT.

In fact, if you use a sweet, red, thin-skinned apple variety that’s been grown without sprays, you won’t even need to peel them.  This’ll get ya’ a gorgeous pink applesauce that just screams “misfit.”   You barely need a recipe for this, dudes and dudettes, and it’s perfect for freezing in batches, serving with crisp potato latkes and a brisket, using in recipes, or just enjoying as is.

So what did we do with the rest of the apples? A few are still taking up valuable refrigerator real estate, but some went toward a batch of Apple-Cherry Oatmeal Bars, others we’ve enjoyed as-is, and the rest went to two gallons of from-scratch Hard Apple Cider.

What, you thought I had enough shame not to drag moonshine into this?  HARDLY!

So did our excess of apples teach me a lesson about letting fall fever cloud my judgment? Absolutely–if I could do it all over again, I’d pick twice as many.  Then I wouldn’t be making a trip back to upstate New York tomorrow for another bushel.

What?

Sugar-Free Pink Applesauce
Makes approx. 1/2 cup finished sauce per apple (I used 20 Cortlands and had 5 pints for the freezer)

Go Get:
Da apples, thin-skinned, sweet, red variety, grown without sprays

Go Do:
Wash the apples thoroughly; then quarter and core them.  Put enough water into a large pot (think Dutch Oven size) pot to cover the bottom by 1/2 inch, and add your apples.  Put a medium-high flame under the pot and occasionally stir up from the bottom to redistribute the apples.  Cook until the apples are very soft, about 20 minutes, adding more water to prevent scorching as necessary.  Allow the mixture to cool enough to safely handle, and then run it through the food processor until the skin is only visible as tiny red flecks in the sauce (You can also put it through a food mill, if you’re bitchin’ enough to have a food mill; I’m currently slightly less bitchin’ than that, but still bitchin’ enough to make pink applesauce which is STILL ALL KINDS OF BITCHIN’ SO RESERVE JUDGMENT MMKAY?). Cool the applesauce completely, divide it into containers, and refrigerate or freeze.

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