The other night I picked apples in the dark. There is an orchard about 40 miles away from my house where anyone can go and pick fruit for free. The story I heard is that a farmer grew fruit trees and when the property was sold, the new owner had no interest in maintaining the orchard. Hence, free.
I was heading back from town and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to get free apples for sauce, pie and winter eating, so even though the light was failing, I figured I’d go. By the time I’d found the place and gotten stuck in the mud not once, but twice, it was dark. I couldn’t see any apples, and was about to give up, when a couple pulled up in a pickup. They cautioned me to stay on the main track to avoid getting stuck, and led me to the apple trees.
I’d had my doubts about whether there’d be any fruit; apparently the trees are often picked clean by this time of year. However, I was in luck: there were many varieties of apple trees laden with fruit. Most of the apples are tiny, and many of them are lacking in flavor (the result of a lack of pruning, I surmise). However, I tasted apples from each tree as I went, and ended up with about a bushel of delicious, if tiny, fruit.
I am in the process of making apple sauce, which is slow going with such small apples. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at how non-wormy they are. Picking in the dark, I couldn’t really select for blemish-free fruit. But probably close to half of these apples are pristine. I have a (less severe than it used to be) phobia of worms, so it always takes a certain amount of courage for me to cut into fruit with holes in it.
I was trying really hard to not have to see a worm. I left a colander of apple scraps out when I left the house for a couple of hours, and when I returned, there was a worm among the peelings and cores. It didn’t even bother me. Getting better all the time!