Manitoba AppleCrabs

On July 29, we had our first apple harvest thanks to Lynda and Darrell.

These delicious 4-6 cm applecrabs (cross between an apple and a crabapple) are a light green with a red blush.  They’re crispy with just the right amount of sweetness, great for eating just as they are or for any number of recipes. My kids declared that they are picture perfect apples.

Now, what to do with 200 lbs of picture perfect apples?!

Today, we’ll see which community organization would like 66 lbs of applecrabs.  And then, we’ll be busy making apple juice, apple sauce, apple butter, apple crisp, apple kuchen, apple cobbler, apple pie, apple muffins, or whatever else suits our fancy.

Evans Cherries

Yeah, cherries!

Three of us picked some Evans Cherries (sour cherries) this evening.  Two trees yielded three 4 Litre pails in about 3/4 hour of picking.  Luckily, we just finished just before the rain.
Here’s a picture of Fernando, our newest volunteer, stretching to reach those cherries.
The cherries looked beautifully red and shiny – but they were very tart, as one curious neighbour discovered when she tasted one.  The expression on her face was priceless – as was her comment “You’re gonna need a lot of sugar for those!”
As always, we split our haul three ways between the homeowner, the volunteers and a community group.  In addition to the small batch of cherries and some recipes, we added some green, yellow and burgundy beans from the garden.  
When I arrived, there was a lot of interest in the beans but very little in the cherries – they all thought they were too sour.  I trust that word will get around and someone will find something delicious to make with them.
Stay tuned for what Aleta and Fernando decided to make with their cherries.

Nanking Cherries

The Nankings are ready.  Just like a lot of plants this year, they’re about 2 or 3 weeks early.
Unfortunately, we haven’t had any come through Fruit Share.  Hopefully that means everyone has found wonderful ways to use them themselves.
We greedily harvested the ones in our own back yard and made juice, syrup and jelly with them.
If you’re wondering what to do with your nankings, here are some ideas.
To get the juice…
To get the pulp…

Of course you don’t need to separate the pulp and the juice.  Usually, I don’t, but this year I was experimenting with my new toy from Lee Valley – the jelly strainer. 
If you don’t separate the pulp from the juice, your jams, jellies and syrups will be thicker and not transparent.  Despite what the jelly judges at a country fair might say, I actually prefer having a little more texture in my spreads.
Before I even got to make any preserves, we found a lot of ways to eat our nankings:
  • raw, right off the bush

Manitoba Strawberries

Manitoba strawberries are ready for picking.  Going to a U-pick strawberry farm and making strawberry freezer jam made it on to my kids’ list of things they want to do this summer.  

The kids say you just gotta…
Pick ’em.
Admire ’em.
Clean ’em.
Squish ’em.
Mix ’em with sugar and pectin.  Then put ’em in a jar.
Enjoy all year long!

The Cherries are Almost Ready

Nanking Cherries are almost ready for picking.  These delicious little flavour bombs are very juicy and can get quite sweet if left long enough.  We use them for juice, pancake syrup and jelly.  We also like eating them right off the bush, although that does get messy when dealing with all those pits – after all “pits” is just a clever an anagram for “spit”!
Time to dig out our favourite cherry recipes.

Rustic Rhubarb Tart Recipe

Two volunteers collected from two more fruit donors this week.  Sounds like they harvested another 5 pounds to share between themselves and the tenants of Fred Tipping Place.

Aleta, one of those volunteers says:

“I made a great (and yummy) Rhubarb Tart with some of the rhubarb we collected last week,and then I chopped & froze about 8 more cups for future use. 

Here’s the Recipe for the Tart.  I swear by Canadian Living Recipes!!”

Rustic Rhubarb Tart
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

This recipe makes 12 servings (This recipe can be changed to serve less by going to the website recipe @

6 cups (1.5 L) chopped rhubarb
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
1/4 cup (50 mL) coarsely chopped pecans
1 tbsp (15 mL) milk
Icing sugar

3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/2 cup (375 mL) cold butter
2/3 cup (150 mL) cold water

Pastry: In bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until in fine crumbs. Add water; stir with fork just until moistened. Transfer to work surface and press pastry together; knead lightly 5 or 6 times just until dough forms ball. Flatten slightly into disc; wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into 16-inch (40 cm.) circle, leaving edges rough. Transfer to 12-inch (30 cm) pizza pan, letting pastry hang over edge.
In bowl, toss together rhubarb, sugar, flour and nutmeg. Arrange over pastry; sprinkle with pecans. Fold pastry overhang over filling. Brush pastry with milk. Bake in 425°F (220°C) oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C); bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until rhubarb is tender and pastry golden. Let cool on rack; dust with icing sugar.

Have a great day!

Honey Oat Whole Wheat Rhubarb Muffin

If whole wheat, oats and honey instead of sugar are important to you, here’s a muffin that meets those criteria and is still super delicious.  Got this one from Canadian Living.  They added sunflower seeds instead of rhubarb – but they were equally delicious with rhubarb.

Honey Oat Whole Wheat Rhubarb Muffins 
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen
Bottom of Form
1 cup (250 mL) large-flake rolled oats
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk (milk and lemon juice alternate)
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) liquid honey
1/3 cup (75 mL) vegetabIe oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup (75 mL) rhubarb

Line muffin cups with paper liners or grease; set aside.
In large bowl, stir oats with buttermilk; let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in separate large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
Whisk honey, oil, sugar and egg into buttermilk mixture; pour over flour mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. 

Add rhubarb.
Divide among prepared cups. Bake in centre of 375°F (190°C) oven until tops are firm to the touch, about 17 minutes.
Let cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Remove from pan; let cool completely.