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eG Cook-Off #67: Apples


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Oh my gosh, Smithy!  Those are the cutest apples ever!  I wonder if you could pickle them?  I did a quick google and this website popped up http://nipitinthebud.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/making-sweet-pickled-crab-apples/  .  I'm still in a pickle mode, I guess :)

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Oh my gosh, Smithy!  Those are the cutest apples ever!  I wonder if you could pickle them?  I did a quick google and this website popped up http://nipitinthebud.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/making-sweet-pickled-crab-apples/  .  I'm still in a pickle mode, I guess :)

 

Pickled apples!  I hadn't thought of that!  Thanks for the link.  :smile:

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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And the beauty of pickling them is that you don't have all the prep work that you would for some other recipes. Good idea! 

 

You can always make crabapple jelly, it can be lovely. You probably already thought of that, but here's one link, just in case. It can be easy to do, also - you don't have to peel or core - just cut them up a bit! 

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... What else might I do with these? Ideas, anyone?

 

It doesn't get round the processing problem, but would an apple chutney be enough of a change from apple relish to be worthwhile to you?

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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It doesn't get round the processing problem, but would an apple chutney be enough of a change from apple relish to be worthwhile to you?

It might be. Now that you mention it, I'm not sure I know the difference between a relish and a chutney, but I'm willing to learn. Got any good recipes for me?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I wish I had.  It's a loooong time since I made any myself, and I don't have the recipe any more - I think BBC recipes are normally reliable, and out of the first few Google hits their classic recipe looks good.  The best recipe I have in a book here is similar and leaves you to pick your own pickling spice mixture from the typical (long) list of candidates.

Edited by Blether (log)
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This is my recipe for chutney.  Although this version uses rhubarb, (as part of our rhubarb Cook-off (http://forums.egullet.org/topic/148879-eg-cook-off-66-rhubarb/page-2), it works just as well with tart, diced apples.  I just adjust the cooking time and go a little longer for apples.

 

My Rhubarb Chutney-

3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup currants

1/2 cup diced red onion

1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. cloves

1/8 tsp. cayenne or red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

Salt and black pepper

Optional-curry powder

Water

 

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add all the ingredients and spices and stir to combine.  When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down to low and let the chutney cook until the apples soften.  Add water to thin the chutney if it is too thick.

 

 

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Not yet apple season here in East Central Ontario.  We have at last count 20 apple trees on our 100-acre hemp farm although many are hardly edible now.  Some are heritage apples no doubt, going back over 100 years.  We don't know...no one has documented any of this.  Some taste OK.  Some are well...we don't want to eat them.  All are growing wild.

 

In our back yard we have two nicely-producing trees - a Macintosh and a Northern Spy.  And you can't beat a Northern Spy for pies.  (Which Canadians eat traditionally with sharp cheddar...not whipped cream, not ice cream.)

 

Two years ago we had WONDERFUL apples up the wazoo.  We juiced as many as we could stand to juice and froze the results.  And apple-sauced the rest.  Some were pies.  Nothing noteworthy except for the incredible abundance of the apples.

 

Next year we had lots of apples...but small and not really that good.  Didn't really do anything with them. 

 

This year the Northern Spy has NO apples on it.  And the Mac has a very few, up high in the branches and we haven't tried one yet. 

 

The pattern above is not new over the last 19 years.  I have no idea why.  It's time to call in a professional apple grower I think.

 

Any advice is gratefully received.  I realize that this post entails more than the cooking of apples.  Sorry. 

 

My dad worked in the apple orchards in Eastern Washington during the depression.  He told me that if apple trees are allowed to fend for themselves, they'll have one year with lots of apples and the next year with hardly any.  What the grower has to do is thin the crop on the heavy year when the apples are still very small, so that the tree produces a moderate amount of apples (those apples will be a bit bigger because they're not competing for nutrients so heavily).  The tree will then produce a moderate crop again the next year and so long as it is thinned if it produces too many, the cropping should even out.

 

We've had two wild apple trees in our lives, one in NJ and one here in Toronto, and they both followed the heavy/lean rotation, but I never was able to thin the crop to see if that helped the lean year crop. 

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And the beauty of pickling them is that you don't have all the prep work that you would for some other recipes. Good idea! 

 

You can always make crabapple jelly, it can be lovely. You probably already thought of that, but here's one link, just in case. It can be easy to do, also - you don't have to peel or core - just cut them up a bit! 

Smithy, you called these "wild apples." Are these like normal domesticated apples that have gone feral, or are they some form of never-domesticated apple? Or are they actual crab apples (which we can buy at a few farms in our area)?

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Getting back to basics: last night we were invited next door for dinner, which was marvelous. One of the dishes on the table was the last jar of last year's applesauce; there won't be any more for another month or so because our neighbor likes to use northern spy apples to make her applesauce. Her sauce is chunky and spiced, but you could definitely tell that it was not made from a sweeter apple.

 

What apples do yinz like to use for applesauce? Do you look for something specific, or just use whatever you can get, cheap, at the time you're ready for applesauce? Will you hold out for practically the last apples of the year, like my neighbor?

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Boring mediocre apples just cry out for an addition of some kind of tart fruit in the mix such as rhubarb or plums and a splash of red wine and whatever spices you like. I prefer a small cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean. You can always add some lemon juice or lemon zest to perk them up, and a splash of good vinegar at the end doesn't hurt either. 

 

I prefer a tart apple. I did have a tree, way back when, but now I just buy my apples for applesauce. Since I have to buy them and I am not trying to use up my own crop or a neighbor's gift I like to use a decent tasty apple. Sometimes at the farmers' market the vendor will be selling interesting varieties that are blemished and I go for those.

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My dad worked in the apple orchards in Eastern Washington during the depression.  He told me that if apple trees are allowed to fend for themselves, they'll have one year with lots of apples and the next year with hardly any.  What the grower has to do is thin the crop on the heavy year when the apples are still very small, so that the tree produces a moderate amount of apples (those apples will be a bit bigger because they're not competing for nutrients so heavily).  The tree will then produce a moderate crop again the next year and so long as it is thinned if it produces too many, the cropping should even out.

 

We've had two wild apple trees in our lives, one in NJ and one here in Toronto, and they both followed the heavy/lean rotation, but I never was able to thin the crop to see if that helped the lean year crop. 

 

That may explain why the tree I enjoyed so much last year is almost bare.  The strange thing is that I thought it had had a generous compliment of blossoms this spring.  Was it only wishful thinking that turned those blossoms into the green fruit I thought I was watching, or did some very ambitious person or birds harvest when I wasn't looking?  At any rate, when I checked it last week there were 2 fruits, way out of reach, and nothing on the ground.

 

Smithy, you called these "wild apples." Are these like normal domesticated apples that have gone feral, or are they some form of never-domesticated apple? Or are they actual crab apples (which we can buy at a few farms in our area)?

 

I think of crab apples as being very tart / sour, and coming from the large trees with showy (often dark pink) blossoms.  I may be making an incorrect distinction.  The trees I'm referring to as wild apples are relatively small - say, 20' high - with miniature apples ranging in size from 1 to 3 cm.  All the trees I've watched have white blossoms, but the fruits range from yellowish to the brilliant deep red of a radish. Most of the trees produce essentially spherical fruit, but a few put out oblong fruits.  Some trees are loose in the brush by the roadside, but others were obviously planted; this year's 'favorite' set is arranged in a row on what we think is an old farmstead, overlooking a creek. The fruits of one tree are very different from the fruit of the next. Some may have sprouted from seeds, since (according to the University of Minnesota web site linked below) apples have to be grafted to run true to the parent.

 

My term 'wild' refers to their being untended, probably not worth cultivating (because of size, texture, shelf life, etc.) and ignored except by wackos like me who go pick the fruit and try to do something with it.  In 2011 the University of Minnesota rediscovered a test orchard that had been planted in 1911 and abandoned sometime in mid-century.  Records unearthed (that led them to go find it again) indicated that seedlings were distributed from the test orchard to homeowners in the area.  I suspect most or all of these trees are from that source, but there's no way to be sure.  They ran a genotyping project to which I submitted leaves, but no match was found.  Some other trees were identified as old and rare breeds.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I turned to my vintage cookbooks for some apple inspiration and came across the 1946 edition of The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer.  Mrs. Rombauer lists 56 different apple recipes--a phenomenal number considering many cookbooks today may only have a few apple dishes.  She lists 6 different apple pie recipes, two apple mincemeat recipes along with baked apples, apples baked in cream, baked in fruit juice, canned, candied and with cinnamon. 

 

The 1913 edition of the Boston Cooking School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer offers a tempting Fall recipe for "Venison Cutlets with Apples."  The dish is composed of venison sautéed in butter and paired with apples soaked in port with a garnish of candied cherries.  Fast-forward 101 years and one would describe the dish on a menu as "Noisettes of Venison with Caramelized Heirloom Baldwin Apples and Port Wine Montmorency Cherries."  Ms. Farmer sure knew the beauty of pairing apples and game. 

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David Ross: My father has a cookbook called 101 ways with apples, it includes beer, wine, cider, schnapps, cider and liqueurs.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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Macs for me for applesauce.

Mmm, that would be yummy. One of my favorite apples is an early Vermont Mac. Can't get that here. CA gravensteins are a very good tart apple and make wonderful sauce, but like the mac, they have a very short season and the texture loses its magic quickly after picking, so getting good gravs is a matter mostly of luck if you don't have your own tree. I'm looking forward to Arkansas Blacks; I'm guessing they will make great applesauce. They are another favorite of mine, also not local (duh) and with a short season, but they are often excellent for the few weeks when they are in the stores here.

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The worst luck in the world----I dropped my poor little Canon Zoom camera and the dear fellow is no more.  Splat on the kitchen floor just when I had four apple dishes to photograph.  This guy served me well for about 4 years and trust me, I am tough on little cameras when it comes to food photography.

 

But there is good news in that I can use tonight and tomorrow as practice on the recipes and then photograph then with a new camera next week.  On the menu-

-Red Apple and Bourbon Fizz cocktail, (Red Delicious)

-Puffed German Apple Pancake, (Gala)

-Roast Duck with Turnips, Apples and Calvados, (Granny Smith)

-Apple-Huckleberry Crisp, (Gala)

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20140914_174313_zpsec1ad1f9.jpg

 

Apple crumble trifle!  A basic  trifle with  left over almond sponge,   apple jelly with cooked apples.  home made proper  English custard ( yes that is the name of the recipe I use), whipped cream and cinnamon cookie crumble on top.

 

20140914_174231_zps8b244918.jpg

 

Doesnt it look yummy?

 

20140914_174754_zpseed1a501.jpg

 

Oozing  of yumminess ... well that is what my husband said after his second portion and then he had to have a  third.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I got not quite half of my itty bitty apples prepped:

 

Wild apples 1st prepped side.jpg

 

to produce somewhere between 4 and 6 cups of chopped applet.  I seasoned some of that with sugar and cinnamon, in preparation for making small pies or hand pastries, and left the rest to make a relish.  Then life got in the way...and the night before we left on a glamping trip, the whole lot went outside.  The assorted wildlife around our house are feasting.

 

Ever the optimist, I picked a smaller batch and brought them with me:

 

Wild apples 2nd lens cap.jpg

 

That black thing is a lens cap from my camera, for size comparison.  These applets are from a different tree.  Perhaps this time around I'll manage to cook them.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Those are just so pretty, Smithy.  It looks like a lot of work, but I bet they taste so good.

 

On a side note, I miss seeing/reading about your glamping trips. *hint hint*

Thanks, Shelby!  They do taste good, and they're a lot of work...but I persevered. Glamping is good for that. (We're on a shakedown cruise right now, but I hope to be writing more about it later this year.)

 

First, I'd like to show the applets I've been picking:

 

Apples 1 phone.jpgApples 2 phone.jpg

 

The two trees are so close that branches are entangled. Whether one came from the other's seed is anyone's guess.  There are at least 6 more trees in that planting, and I don't think any two are alike.

 

Today I managed to wash and slice the mixed bag that I brought with me on this trip:

Raw applets 2.jpg Prepped applets 2.jpg

 

I got about a quart of applet bits: a surprising quantity given the modest number of applets I'd brought with me.The applets are tart and crisp.  I mixed in lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon.  I had considered adding other spices as well (mace? cardamom?) but there were already too many variables at play, so I stuck with my standard apple pie seasonings.

 

Last January I picked up this tartlet pan at a sale.  It's an interesting design: 4 mini-pie wells, with removable bottoms.  There's also a crust cutter with (I thought) one side for cutting the bottom crust and one side for cutting the top crust with decorative cutouts.  

Tartlet pan.jpgCrust cutter.jpg

 

The problem is that the diameter of the larger dough cutter is an almost exact match for a crust before it's pressed into the form, not after.  Perhaps the idea is to roll the dough over the entire form, press the dough into the little wells, and then use the crust cutter.  Of course I don't have the instructions with me.  I had to expand the circles after cutting them, and I couldn't roll them out symmetrically.  Don't look too closely at the photos unless you want comic effect.

 

Applet tartlets in pan.jpg

 

The finished result was very good, despite its eccentric appearance:  tart but sweet, and nicely complemented by some excellent ice cream (honey and lavender) given me last weekend by a local ice cream entrepreneur.

 

Applet tartlet with ice cream.jpg

 

Applet tartlet with ice cream: a perfect single serving.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Nancy, that tartlet looks great but what I really covet is the pan.  I'm a sucker for single-serving pans and dishes of any sort.  Is the name of the maker stamped on it, by any chance?

 

Love the tree photos too, I'll bet the apple blossoms in the spring are beautiful.

 

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