Old Apple House in Autumn


Seeping down from the cracks in the knotted ceiling,

And lifting from the depths of the earthen floor,

An oddly released and subtle scent comes stealing

From the hoardings of many an autumn gone before.

And now afresh the Pippins, Baldwins, and Russets

Heaped high in bushel baskets add their scent

To linger long in this ancient house long after

Their color is gone and their brief earth-life is spent.

Out of an orchard whose feet are ever wading

Ankle-deep in a glittering mountain stream

Have come the apples, crimson and green and golden,

As the bright fulfillment of some man’s ancient dream

Of sturdy weighted trees whose abundant fruitage

Would gleam like lighted fires across the gloom

Of autumn days–waiting the inevitable hour

To be gathered close in the dusk of this mellow room.

                                                                                                 1950 – Grace Noll Crowell


Long before the modern advance of refrigerators (remember the ice box?), refrigerated trucks and warehouses, the apple harvest was stored in a separate “cool” cellar apart from the rest of the harvest. The reason for this is apples (and other foods noted below) release a natural plant hormone in the form of ethylene gas. In concentrated amounts it will trigger cells to degrade, fruit to turn softer and sweeter, leaves to droop, and seeds or buds to sprout.  You can use this knowledge to extend the life of your produce or on the flip side speed up the ripening process. In need of fast track readiness for a recipe, perhaps? This can be accomplished by placing an ethylene producing fruit inside a paper bag or other closed container with foods to be ripened. The same ethylene gas will aid in “bud or blossom” of some flowers, too!


ETHYLENE PRODUCING FOODS ~ apples, apricots, avocados, bananas (ripe), blueberries, cantaloupe, cherimoyas, cranberries, figs, green onions, guavas, grapes, honeydew, kiwifruit, mangoes, mangosteen, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, potatoes, prunes, quince, tomatoes

ETHYLENE SENSITIVE FOODS ~ asparagus, bananas (unripe), blackberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, garlic, green beans, kale, leafy greens, leeks, lettuce, okra, onions, parsley, peas, peppers, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberries, sweet potatoes, watercress, watermelon.