If an apple a day keeps the doctor away woah am I set for a week or two! Tis the season, the trees are heavy with fruit (except for my young trees, this year brought us no fruit…zero, nada, zilch)! Lucky for us my cousin offered up his orchard for all the picking we wanted and safe to say, we have our fill!
There’s something kind of bittersweet in filling these pails. It’s the beginning of a new season and there’s starting to be a crispness in the air that tells us fall is on the way. Harvest is upon us, the evening air is thick with dust and the hum of distant combines… Sweaters come out of hiding and spicy notes of cinnamon and clove hit our senses. As a farmwife my days are filled with hurried meal prep, driving to and fro to help move farm equipment, picking all things ready from the garden and my evenings are spent in solitude after the little goes to bed. I often get my large soup pot out on these evenings and create my own gentle hum in the kitchen while I prepare my daily produce collection for the long winter months ahead. On my to-do list this past week has been my apple haul!
I try to make apple sauce every year. (There always seems to be somebody trying to get rid of apples even though my orchard is sparse!). I like to make one batch plain to use for more savoury items such as a side for pork roast or smoky BBQ sauce add-in and it’s great for substituting in many baking recipes for added health benefits. The other batch I always try to make is one I spice up with ground clove, cinnamon and ginger and sweeten with honey. This is a yummy snack all on it’s own or boiled down even further for a lucious apple butter to serve on scones or biscuits. It’s also great stirred into our morning oatmeal then topped with raisins! Apple sauce is kind of the unsung hero of the food world in my opinion. It’s so forgiving and with my handy food mill once I cook down the halved fruits, mashing it into that yummy puree is so easy! It’s not just for baby food!
This year I also tried my hand at some crab apple jelly. This is my first time taking the fruit all the way through this process on my own…Usually my mom generously shares her hard-work with me and gives me some juice she’s already prepared. The color of my jelly is a lot lighter than I usually make (likely due to the apples I used) but I think it’s stunning regardless. I can’t wait to dollop it on fresh bread!
Lastly, I saved some of my harvest for pure tradition. My grandma always makes these perfect little apple turnovers this time of year. She would always send out a tub to both our farm and my uncle’s farms for field meals and for us kids to scarf! A few years ago I spent a day with my grandma and got her to teach me how to make this time-honoured tradition. It was such a cherished day. Now each year I try to make these treats and share them with my dad, brothers and my husband’s farm crew. I always have a stock of this yummy apple filling in the freezer so each year I can continue with this tradition.
Here’s the recipe for the filling (which would be yummy in all sorts of things; apple pie pockets/handpies, a full traditional apple pie, stirred into muffin batter or even just eaten warm with a scoop of ice-cream)!
- 8 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Cook until apples start to soften then add 3 Tbsp cornstarch (as a slurry)
- Sprinkle 1/2 pkg vanilla instant pudding over and stir well.
- Freeze in pint sized containers
I think we often under-estimate the power of this abundant fruit. This time of year I always get a bit over-zealous with my fruit and vegetable preserving but I am never sorry when in the depths of winter I can pull a jar from the pantry or a tub from the freezer and taste a bit of summer splendour! What ways do you use up this crisp and hearty gem? I’d love to hear from you!