Hold Those Apples!

Pascale's Apple ButterA few weeks ago I started to notice that the crab apple tree in our yard was putting out apples a lot larger and nicer looking than your average crab apple. Much to my delight, I realised that it wasn’t a crab apple tree but a regular apple tree. I’m still not sure what sort of apples they are, but my neighbour (who is decidedly better at identifying prairie fruit than I am) declared them great to eat in pies and crisps.

My husband and I decided we’d leave them alone to get nice and ripe and then potentially make apple wine from our crop. I’ve been researching recipes and it’s not hard at all! You just need a lot of patience and a lot of apples.You can read more on the boozy brilliance of apple wine here.

This morning, however, we woke up to a bare tree. During the night the wind had come up and knocked off pretty much all our apples. We dragged a couple of buckets down to the bottom of our yard for the deer and sulked over the loss of our beautiful fruit.The apples that had fallen were still small, sour and only just starting to get a rosy glow. Nothing really seemed salvageable.

I’m sure a lot of readers can relate to having fruit that falls from the tree early and ends up bruised and damaged. Nonetheless, I figured it was at least worth a try to make something out the fruit. So I gathered up another 3kg bucket of apples and dutifully diced them up. I didn’t bother to peel them because when it comes to cooking, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. Plus, the skin on apple is filled has tons of health benefits.

The diced apples , some rhubarb I had frozen during spring, and several spices (cloves, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla) were all tossed together in a large pot with 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water set to simmer on a low heat. I figured even if only got a spicy fruit compote to serve on my yoghurt in the morning, then that was better than all the apples going to waste.

In about 15 minutes the house started to smell like Christmas. The apples bubbled away and eventually melted into a thick, delicious mass. And here’s the wonderful thing about cooking damaged fruit: the bruises disappear, the flesh turns soft and gooey, the skin pulls away. As I stared into my pot I realised that no one would be able to tell that these were not store-bought apples. I can’t begin to describe the amazing flavour, for that you’re going to have to make your apple pot.

In the end I used half the apple-rhubarb mix in a classic crisp and the rest in a spiced-apple butter, following and modifying fellow blogger Raelene’s recipe for rhubarb butter here. And because I couldn’t resist, I froze a small tub to serve with turkey on Christmas day this year.

So it just goes to show that a lot of fruit we throw away can be saved. Those weird looking apples hanging in your yard, might turn out to make your apple pie the best yet. With apple season really just starting, and lots of upcoming apple picks, make sure you think twice before tossing your apples.