Stoke the stove, light the oven, and whip up a batch of blueberry muffins. The tall spruce trees surrounding our house are bending and dancing with the wind, and the temperature outside is a balmy 45 degrees. It has been a long week, and the simple joy of watching the birds gather as the November sun rises is a treat, and a comfort to the soul.
The smell of baking muffins snaps me back to the present, and I heat up the cast-iron breakfast skillet for our morning eggs. Setting the table, and pouring out glasses of juice…our juice….from the 21 apple trees we tend at Barbour Farm.
We grew up in the fifties and sixties, and like most Americans, both our families started the day with orange juice. Remember Anita Bryant…no day complete without Florida sunshine? When we moved here to the island and decided to enjoy a more native and local cuisine, one of the big challenges was replacing that mile-laden, petroleum-based orange juice.
Running the numbers, if a person consumes 5 ounces of juice per day for 365 days, that is 1825 ounces, or 14.25 gallons per year. For our family of two, this is just a little over ½ gallon of juice per week. So, to get our “Maine sunshine” every day, we needed to put away 52 – ½ gallons of juice….Wowser!
In my search for sources of fruit for our juice, I’ve experimented with rhubarb (Ruby Juice), wild blueberries, cranberries, peaches and pears, tomato (I make a mean Bloody Mary mix), and apples. As it turns out, Maine produces 2 fruits in enough capacity to provide its residents with a good supply of juice: wild blueberries and apples.
We are fortunate that the past two years have been good apple years. From our orchard…that was once just growing wild…. we harvest over 50 bushels of apples, pressing them into over 100 gallons of cider…bottling this into quarts and quarts of juice, fermenting some into sparkling cider, and putting the rest into vinegar.
We Mainers love our apples…and for good reason. It’s all for the daily juice!