Apple-Peeler-XHJ-110-A friend of mine posted a video on Facebook showing him using an apple peeler like the one pictured here, and I was instantly slammed by a virtual tsunami of nostalgia.

When our family moved to Lynnwood, circa 1958, my father planted five apple trees and one pear tree in the backyard. The neighbors mocked the idea, saying we’d never get any fruit from them, but Dad was not discouraged.

As it turned out, those trees produced more apples than a family of six could ever hope to eat before they spoiled. Mom, coming from humble farmer beginnings, subscribed to the “waste not, want not” philosophy of home economics and canned all those apples into golden quarts of applesauce every fall for several decades.

I was often recruited to help at the first stage: peeling and coring. Then Mom sliced and chopped, and slowly cooked down both Gravensteins and Kings (but never put the two together!) over low heat. It seemed to take forever, but the house smelled so wonderful during this process. Sugar and cinnamon were added “to taste,” and when Mom deemed it ready, she ladled the hot sauce into a row of glass quart jars, finishing each with a canning lid and metal ring. She then wrapped them in a towel and busied herself with the cleanup.

“Ping! Ping!” As each jar sealed, we counted aloud. “Ping!” We knew how many quarts were in each batch and celebrated with cheering and high fives when they all sealed. “Ping!” And if one lid didn’t pop, then it went into the fridge for immediate use.

Applesauce was a staple at our dinner table all year long, just as it had been in Mother’s youth. “For lunch we had spuds and applesauce,” Mom often told us about growing up on the farm. “And for dinner we’d have applesauce and spuds.”applesauce-jars

On occasion, I’ve attempted to quasi-continue the tradition of canning homemade applesauce, but it’s just not the same when you cheat by freezing it in ziplock baggies. Nevertheless, I can’t stop myself from waxing nostalgic whenever I see a heavily-laden apple tree in the fall, or a short homemade video demonstrating the still-viable apple peeler.

And I am grateful for these memories.