The windows are a bit steamy these days thanks to all the canning that has been going on, starting with a wheelbarrow full of Cox Orange Pippin apples and 20 pounds of crab apples from the trees here at Mucky Boots.
And then there were those 45 pounds of Italian plums courtesy of my dad's plum tree.
Yes, you read that right: 45 pounds. Last week we spent an afternoon picking them and then two days making plum butter and a couple of kinds of plum jam. Kim, bless her heart, split and pitted somewhere between 850 and 900 plums, and together we cooked and mashed and stirred and processed, and now we have 50 half-pints of plummy sweetness filling the shelves in our cold storage room.
The crab apples have been made into juice, which has been canned until either I have time to make it into jelly or we drink it (which, since it is unsweetened, should send the Tart Meter into the red zone).
We have only just begun on the apples: one big bucket-full has given us almost two-dozen jars of dark, spicy apple butter, and there is an awful lot left to process. The rest will go to apple sauce or will be dried. And even though we'll have plenty for ourselves and to give away, we're feeling a little sad that this year's harvest is less than half that of previous years, because our beloved grand dame Pink Lady tree has succumbed to the massive damage done when a bear climbed it last fall to get the two apples we hadn't been able to reach at the top. As Harry, our master-pruner friend said the other week when he had a look, the tree had been living with a minor case of blight which speedily took over the tree once it was damaged, and now even the few limbs that survived the bear are dead or dying. The tree needs to come down, and that will be a sad, sad day at Mucky Boots.
As if to compensate, our other distinguished old tree, the Cox Orange Pippin, presented us with a bountiful barrow-full of big, fat apples. They are a more utilitarian apple than the Pink Ladies: they are naturally much drier, and consequently good for dehydrating and storing. They don't have the sweet, juicy flesh and amazing flavour of the Pink Ladies, but we're grateful for them nonetheless.
And so the pantry is filling up again with jars and jars of jam, jam, jam - far more than we could ever eat. But half the fun is giving them away.
Can you say "Christmas presents?"