Home-grown apples! Too many!
We bought our house from an aging couple a few years ago, and the young apple tree they planted before they sold us the property is absolutely LADEN with fruit this year. I guess it has fully matured and aims to be fruitful and multiply. I think it's a Golden Delicious tree, though of course the apples are a bit "hardier" and more "rustic" than the ones we buy at the grocery store.
Anyway, there's literally hundreds of apples on the danged thing, and though we are healthy, fruit-eating folk, there's just too many to eat raw. Any ideas as to how to preserve these beauties? We don't eat much jelly, so that's a non-starter. Other than applesauce, what are my options? Does applesauce preserve well?
I have some basic understanding of the canning process, having hung out in the kitchen as my grandparents canned literally tons of produce back in the day, so I guess I could handle the process. Or maybe I could just sit on the side of the road and sell them by the pound?
We also have some beautiful Bosch pear trees coming to fruition. Lucky us. Hear me now: if you live in a semi-tropical environment like the Deep South, plant a few fruit trees. Free food, little to no maintenance. Good stuff.
I make applesauce and freeze it instead of canning. I think the applesauce tastes fresher frozen than canned.
Peel,core and quarter the apples. Place in your heaviest pot, add a small aount of water & gently cook the apples until the apples are tender(do not cook to a mush, just until they can be broken apart) & the water is cooked away. Keep a close watch on the pot, the apples can go from just right to scorched in just a few seconds. I like my applesauce chunky so I just "mash" the apples with the end of a large whisk. Taste the apples & then add sugar to taste. If you like smooth applesauce & have a food mill, you can just core & quarter the apples(no need to peel), cook the apples and then put though the mill.
Thanks for all the input. I got really sick just after posting, and we lost a lot of the apples, as well as the rest of the garden. Makes me sad to think of all that good food going to waste.
But we got a few, and between us and our friends we'll probably eat them all raw. Might try to make one pie, as they are pretty hard, and pretty tart.
re: uptown jimmy
You have to make this crumbly apple pie! It'll be perfect!
Crumbly Apple Pie
A buttery brown sugar topping variation on this classic American apple pie.
1 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 C. chilled solid vegetable shortening
1/4 C. ice water
7 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored,and very thinly sliced
1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C. dark brown sugar
3/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 C. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
To make crust, in a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add water, 1 Tbs. at a time, tossing with a fork, until a dough forms. Shape into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. On a floured surface, using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1-inch overhang; make a decorative edge.
To make filling, mix together all ingredients and spoon into crust. To make topping, in a small bowl mix together brown sugar, flour and nutmeg. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut butter into brown sugar mixture until coarse crumbs form. Sprinkle apples evenly with topping. Bake pie until topping is lightly browned and filling is bubbly, about 35 minutes. If pie is overbrowning, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Tranfer to a wire rack to cool.
re: uptown jimmy
Buy a dehydrator/dryer - you won't need an expensive one to make great apple rings. We have a similar problem here in the tropics (but with bananas) and drying seems to be the best way to deal with fruits if you aren't into applesauce or canning (also good suggestions though!)
apple fruit leather is a dream. apple butter with a bit of cinnamon is delicious. apple pie. apple pie. apple pie. apple cider. dried apple slices (you may need a dehydrator or may be able to do them in your oven).
some may balk but my mom makes and freezes apple pies and we eat them throughout the fall. growing up in the "Apple Capitol of the World" Wenatchee, WA we had to be creative in how to save the bounty.
our church had a cider press and all the growers would donate apples and we'd have a weekend press 'party' on Saturday and then would sell the cider on Sunday. the best apple cider I ever had. If you can find someone with a press and others who want to pitch in this would be a great way to go.
If you go the cider/juice route you can reduce a lot of apples to a little bit by making boiled cider. It's as simple as the name--just reduce cider until it thickens like honey. You want pourable, because it will thicken as it cools. I use it as a liquid sweetener in marinades, granola and baked beans, You can also make a delicious sounding pie. Be careful you don't boil too long--you will get jelly--unless, of course that is what you want. I haveboiled cider from last year in my fridge still and no sign of decay--I haven't processed it, though I am sure it would freeze well.
For your preserving infrastructure:
Make your own cider press:
another option, if you like to make pies or crumbles, etc, is to chop & cook apple filling for these-- skin & chop apples, cook slowly w a little lemon juice, maybe some brown sugar, spices, optional other fruits (i like dried cranberries). you can then freeze the filling and use your apple harvest all winter. even if you *don't* bake, this stuff is delicious on top of granola, with yogurt, on top of pancakes, as a spread on a ham sandwich. . .
you can get a juicer, juice your apples, pour into gallon jugs, and freeze.
I can applesauce every year. It is one of the many items I can and give away. It is one of my most requested items because there is no comparison between homemade applesauce and store bought. In addition last year I made a recipe-Apple & Apple Cider Marmelade out of Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty. It was fabulous. If you are interested I can paraphrase for you.
Please. I can give that sort of thing away to friends and relatives.
I'll start picking tomorrow. It's funny, the tree has literally almost collapsed under the weight of all the apples. I guess I need to bone up on apple tree pruning.
The apples are pretty crisp, whether due to varietal or to the fact that we don't irrigate. But they're delicious.
You guys are great!
re: uptown jimmy
A Marmalade of Apples & Apple Cider from Fancy Pantry by Helen Witty
2 # firm, tart apples
2 cups water, or as needed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups freshly pressed sweet apple cider
3 cups sugar
1. Make a pectin stock with skins & cores of washed and drained apples and 2 cups of water. Put the peeled quartered apples in acidulated water while cooking the stock.
2. After the stock comes to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the skins and cores are very tender. Usually takes about 1/2 hr.
3. Put the contents of the stock pan through a food mill set over a bowl and try to get as much pulp through the mill as possible. The skin and cores can be discarded while you return the pulp to the pot.
4. Combine the sugar & cider with the pulp, bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 3 minutes.
5. You can either slice the apples thinly or grate them coarsely and add to stock/cider mixtures. Bring back to a boil while stirring vigorously. You need to then cook uncovered until the apples are translucent and it has thickened. This will take a while 30-40 minutes per the recipe but it may take longer. Stir it often so it doesn't burn or stick. It says you can add more water if it thickens before the apples are cooked through. Test it for doneness by putting a tablespoon on a chilled saucer and putting it in the fridge. If it congeals it is done. Then it is ready for canning.
Applesauce is really easy to can, and a good introduction to the process.
Apple BUTTER was the oldtimers traditional way to deal with the surplus: more concentrated.
If they are the mealier softer fleshed Delicious, they won't hold structure as well for pies, but will do a good applesauce/butter to the viscosity of your choosing.