When I was little, one of my favorite places to visit with my folks was a great organic farm in the Central Valley, called Blooming Gales Apple Ranch, I think (it was a long while ago). They had all sorts of apple varieties that they grew on site. I loved to visit with and feed the horses and chickens. They had a very impressive shop inside an old barns, where they sold apples, nuts, pies, turn overs, juice, cider, apple chips, a myriad of apple themed items, and local produce. Their apple pies and turn overs were made from scratch with lots of love and care and were absolutely delicious. One year my mother, grandmother and I even went to one of their annual fall apple harvest fairs, which was lots of fun.

Theirs was the first unfiltered apple juice I had ever had, and for years we would visit just to buy it and maybe a pie or two. I’ve been hooked on unfiltered apple juice ever since. Thankfully I have found three local organic companies that make bottled unfiltered apple juice, one in Chico and two in Sebastopol (Nana Mae’s Organics and North Coast Apple Products), which I can get at some of the local organic markets in town. My husband also likes it, so unfiltered is the only kind of apple juice I buy now.

The neatest thing about buying Blooming Gales’ apples was if you wanted, the owners made apple springs right in front of you to snack on. They had a classic peel-core-and-slice spiral apple cutter that clamped down to their table. I loved watching the apples being peeled and cut and then playing with the springy apple coils. For sentimental reasons, amusement and general apple slicing, I’ve wanted a turn crank spiral apple slicer that attached to the kitchen counter. I had never really found one for a decent price until last month, when Anise and I were shopping around and looking at some local stores. Well, low and behold I found a great slicer that does everything I wanted for cheap! After a few tries we figured it out and must have peeled and sliced a whole pound of apples. It was so exciting, and I only nicked my fingers twice. Thank you Anise for all of your help! I had so much fun.

Last weekend was the annual Christmas party for one of the local children’s mentoring organizations at my husband’s masonic lodge, so my husband got out the apple slicer (he must have also cut up a pound or so) to practice earlier on in the week. He really seemed to enjoy himself. We discovered that firm apples are definitely needed for the slicer, otherwise only the corer works, leaving the apple turning literally to your hands instead of just using the crank shaft. The morning of the party my hubby cored and sliced two to three pounds of apples for the kids, who all had a tasty lunch and great fun. Success!