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SWEET! Keeping Up With Farmstead Fruit

All of the fruit ripening at the Farmstead Project has made life a SWEET ride the last month or so. Every visit brings new discoveries in deliciousness and new challenges on how to preserve the bounty. (Thank goodness I am certified as a Master Food Preserver, or we would be in BIG trouble!)

Organic Apples

The Apples:

The apple trees in the orchard are going nuts and so are we (trying to keep up)! Next year, we plan to make cider. This year, we are still trying to identify each variety and determine if it is an eating apple, baking apple or something in between.

So that means a lot of picking…

Preserving the Apple Harvest

And taste testing…Mmmm. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.

We have made a lot of apple pie, apple sauce and canned apple pie filling. (Follow the link to see how to do that. Its easy!)

The Pears:

Many of the trees we thought were apple turned out to be pear trees!

Organic Pears

We seem to have several different varieties, but we were most excited to discover that we had a few Asian Pear trees hidden to the side of the orchard. Yeah! (That is the Asian Pear on the right.)

That mystery fruit?

Organically Grown Farmstead Plumbs

Turned out to be plumbs. (They haven’t fully ripened yet, but they are definitely plumbs!) So far, they seem a little scrawny, but this poor tree hasn’t had much pampering in the last few years. Next year should be a better year.

The Mystery Holes?

Thanks to all of you who commented, tweeted and left me Facebook messages about the trees with these holes. You all agreed that it was from a sapsucker (woodpecker) and the damage is very old.

A sapsucker does not actually suck sap. He just makes a hole in the bark and then comes back later to eat the insects that are attracted to the sap.

The damage could have happened any time, but I am now on the lookout for new damage as we move forward.

We also have a ton of peaches and I have been canning like mad. Watch for a post coming up with a recipe for my low-sugar peach jam. The low sugar really lets the peach flavor shine!


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • Julie says:

    Theresa, I’m so excited to hear what varieties of fruit trees you identify! We planted two heirloom apple trees last year, and I can’t wait until they’re a little older and bearing fruit. Have you seen the book Old Southern Apples? It’s a great resource–perhaps that would help with tree ID? Looking forward to your peach jam recipe–peach season is almost over in SC, and I’m about to preserve a last batch for those dreary winter days. Your Farmstead Project is just my dream–cheers to you!

    • theresa says:

      Thanks Julie!

      I have NOT heard of that apple book, but I am going to look for it now. Thanks so much for the tip. (That is what I love about blogging – you get to “meet” the nicest people and everyone is so helpful.)

      The jam recipe should post this weekend. So keep an eye out for it.

      The Farmstead Project is loads of fun. I’m glad I get to take you all along for the ride. 😉

  • Sybil says:

    I know sapsuckers well. They have attacked our loquat fruit trees to the point of almost killing them. The sap of loquats is sweet and the sapsuckers love it. Although they do eat insects, sapsuckers really DO love the tree sap and it is a big part of their winter diet when insects are scarce. It’s war!

    • theresa says:


      Thanks so much for your comment! Everyone told me that they don’t eat the sap, but I will take it from you as you have first hand experience. It is so great to connect with someone who has battled this already. The link is great. I will keep candles on hand.

      I’m starting to wonder what they taste like too…LOL.

  • TeresaR says:

    Oh those sneaky Sapsuckers! We only see their damage; we rarely catch them in action.

    So jealous of your apple harvest! We had early hot weather and then a late frost and that took most of our blossoms/fruits. Whatever little was left dropped all summer probably due to the drought. We’re now left with maybe 5 apples on our 7 apple trees. So sad.

    • theresa says:

      OH NO!!! Teresa that is terrible!

      Well, I guess that means that next year the apple harvest will be even more meaningful. I know when my kumquat tree only had 10 fruits one year, I really enjoyed the following year when we had an abundance. I never took that tree for granted again!

  • Debra says:

    Are you organic and if so how do you keep the birds and pest off of your trees.

    • theresa says:

      Hi Debra,

      Yes, I am organic. Keeping the birds and pests off the trees is what we are in the process of learning now. We have only had this farmstead for a few months and spent the first month or so cleaning up the house and outbuildings and planting a kitchen garden. We are just now learning what fruit we have (I am labeling the trees this month) and we have an organic horticulturalist coming to visit soon to help us come up with a plan going forward.

      I will be posting here what we learn and how we “fix” some of our bug problems in an organic way. At the moment, we are just trying to figure out what the bugs are! LOL

  • Sharon says:

    I don’t think your plums are scrawny. I think that they are Italian Prune Plums! I planted a tree this year in the spring which did not bear fruit but I hope will give us many lovely plums next year! My great grandfather had apple, prune plum and sugar pear trees in his yard. When I was very little we would go to his house with paper grocery bags and just fill them up! Great childhood memory.

    • theresa says:

      Really Sharon? Italian Prune Plums??? I will check that out. I have to say, the flavor was GREAT! But I had no idea what variety they were. Thank you very much for commenting. That helps a lot. And I just love, love, love your childhood memory!

  • […] literally hundreds of heirloom apples to deal with over the last few months. We have baked, canned, slow cooked (into apple sauce), dried, given away and eaten as many as we […]

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