We planted an espaliered apple tree in 1985. 3 types of apples had been grafted onto this tree, which was just a skinny little thing back then. I was worried the entire way home that the little branches would break in transport. I have spent years giving this tree my love and attention, not only to its branches, but also to the soil it lives in. Over the years the tree has grown strong. It never has yielded much fruit, but it has always been beautiful.

This year I haven’t spent as much time in the garden. We’ve had a busy year of travel and business, which pulled me away. I’ve been feeling badly about it, guilty even. A couple of weeks ago I began the process of harvesting the fruit on our trees.

As I began to pick the apples I was humbled by the fact that though I hadn’t spent the time with this tree, pruning, etc. as I usually do, it was absolutely loaded with apples.

More apples than it has ever produced. This beautiful tree did not scold me for the lack of attention. It had not kept track of when I had last groomed it. It simply welcomed me with its open ‘arms’ hanging heavy with fruit.

Such a wonderful example the tree has given as to how we can relate to those we love.

We get busy with our lives and the people we love get busy too.

If we haven’t heard from someone in awhile and we finally decide to reach out ourselves, rather than sneaking in little guilt phrases like “haven’t heard from you in awhile,” perhaps we could simply reach out with open arms heavy with love.

So, what have I done with all these apples? I made a couple of apple tarts and with the rest of the fruit I made Chocolate Apple Butter. That’s right, I said chocolate! It tastes absolutely delicious and thought I would share that recipe with you. If you do any canning at all, I hope you will give this a try. And if you, let me know what you think. Bon Appetite!

Chocolate Apple Butter

 Yield: about 5 cups

                                3 lbs. apples                                    1 ½ lemons

                   ½ Cup water                                    ¾ Cup unsweetened cocoa powder

                       4 ½ Cups sugar                        4-inch vanilla bean pod, split open

                                       2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional)

 Peel, core, and chop apples. If you wish to use the apple peel for added pectin, peel the apples in long strips. Grate the rind of the lemons and squeeze the juice. Put the apples, the peel (if using), the lemon rind, and the lemon juice into a saucepan with the water and cook together gently until the apples are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the peel at this point, if you have used it. Sieve or process the pulp until smooth, then return it to the pot.

Toss the cocoa powder and sugar together, stir the sugar-cocoa powder mixture into the apple puree until it is completely dissolved; add the vanilla bean and continue to cook gently, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. When the jam responds favorably to the saucer test, remove from the heat. At this point, remove the vanilla bean and quickly stir in the orange liqueur (if using.)

Ladle into hot sterilized jars, leaving ¼” headspace. Eliminate air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula. Wipe the rims clean, put lids in place, and tighten down. Shake jars firmly to further settle contents.

To ensure a good seal I like to place the jars in a bath canner and process for 15 minutes. Cool, label, and store in a cool, dry place.


 As many of you know, I am a regular contributor to the Focusing On Life blog. Currently they are offering a giveaway to honor their readers. The prize is a choice of one of the beautiful 12 x 18 posters featuring Terri Porter’s beautiful photography. Her eye for color and composition make her images an inspiration to behold. The winner of one of these posters will certainly be proud to display it in their home. Want to put your name in for the opportunity to win? Check out their blog post that shows the posters with details on how you can participate. Good luck!



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About Carol

Thank you in advance for respecting my art. All the images and text posted to this blog are owned my me and protected by copyright law. Copying any of the content here without permission is against the law and you know, not cool. Many thanks again.
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15 Responses to Harvest

  1. Viv says:

    That looks truly wonderful. We have had a bumper crop here in our little orchard so I am busy stewing fruit for the winter months…

  2. Kate says:

    Lovely post. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I hope to try it as soon as I find some apples worthy of the recipe.

  3. Dawn says:

    This sounds heavenly and as my husband does the canning, I will be passing it along to him 😉
    Those apple that your tree gave are simply gorgeous, I haven’t seen any quite like them before.

  4. Such a sweet story behind your apple tree, such a beautiful treat for you to see and can only imagine. You are such a special soul and that I love about you. You speak from the heart always, recipe sounds wonderful, doubt I will ever make this as my canning days are over, I know I would have jumped at it when I was younger and my family was all around. I will have to imagine the taste and can almost do so on a freshly baked scone with my morning coffee. 🙂 Have a wonderful day sweet lady.

  5. Jana says:

    It is no wonder your garden shares with you even when you think you have neglected it – for you show such thorough attention when you are present it is more than enough to sustain and nourish growth in your absence – The fruits we receive are often a result of efforts and attention long forgotten – love you – JBV

  6. Siobhan Wolf says:

    What a wonderful story, Carol! It really touched my heart this morning.

    We had an apple tree in our yard when I was growing up and my mom used to make lots of apple pies, applesauce, and apple butter. I am going to send her the chocolate apple butter recipe! I don’t know if she makes any these days, but maybe it will inspire her. (I think they’d make great holiday gifts. 😀 )

  7. Dawn Davis says:

    That sounds wonderful–I wonder if it would work with Asian pears, which we are currently using to feed the raccoons at night! Thanks for your beautiful words!

  8. Cheryl says:

    Such beautiful photos carol and a wonderful story. Nature is so forgiving. Perhaps we need to be like that. A lovely heartfelt post.

  9. Roxi says:

    Love those purpley looking apples and that basket….. OMG. To die for photos! I just may try your recipe. And reach out to someone.

  10. Terri Porter says:

    Oh, Carol, I love this post so much! Your photos are so beautiful and I love the story of your apple tree. I have never done any canning but the chocolate apple butter sounds amazing! And finally, thank you so much for your sweet words about my posters that Focusing on Life is giving away. Touched my heart. Miss you, my sweet friend and hope it is not too long before we can spend some time together again.

  11. Sarah says:

    Maybe with the apple tree maintenance, sometimes less is more. Chocolate apple butter sounds divine. Too true if we make people feel guilty for not calling, they aren’t going to want to call anymore.

  12. Kelly Kardos says:

    I’m in awe of this-why I haven’t spent time here on your blog is beyond me. Those apples are just beautiful. Reap what you sow-I think you done good! Beautiful post.

  13. Dotti says:

    Hmmm. Some things seem to thrive on neglect! 😀 That chocolate apple butter sounds wonderfully decadent. Yum.

  14. deb says:

    anything garden grown always seems to taste extra special ~ your chocolate apple butter sounds amazing!

  15. My mother and I (B.A. – before Alzheimers) made apple butter together from fresh-picked apples. We each would core and peel and slice a crock pot full…one cooked at her house all day, as one did at mine. After work, I brought my crock pot over and we joined our batches…baked them in the oven, added the spices, and canned the final treasure. Your apples look wonderful! Thank you for prompting me to reflect on those memories. She died in August.

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