Bountiful harvest can be put to delicious use

About 25 years ago, we planted three apple trees in our yard. Two were affected by fire blight, but the remaining tree has more than made up for their loss.

The bountiful producer is a Trailman crabapple. It also has the advantage of receiving plenty of water from one of our eavestrough downspouts.

The round apples are 1 1/2 to two inches in diameter with a thin skin that does not need to be peeled. The greenish-yellow skin develops a red blush on the sun-exposed side.

The golden flesh has a spicy tartness but is sweet enough that I don’t add sugar to the applesauce. We enjoy juice, sauce, pies and cakes from the fruit of this bountiful tree.

To prepare the apples for use, I wash them, remove the stems and cut the blossom ends off. I then place the apple on this cut end and make four slices down the sides close to the core. I use the slices for apple pie filling, cakes or jams.

I place the cores and small apples that are quartered into my Mehu-Liisa steam juicer to make apple juice. The leftover pulp in the juicer can be put through the food mill to make applesauce. Only the seeds and core bits are thrown away.

With the steam juicer, the fruit is placed in the top basket and water in the bottom, the steam rises through a centre cone and cooks the fruit. The juice drips through the basket into a collection pan from which a tube leads to extract the juice.

I freeze or can the extracted juice. The apple juice is tart so I often serve it mixed with equal amounts of bought apple juice. The apple juice also mixes well with rhubarb juice.

Rhubarb juice

  • 20 c. rhubarb juice 5 L
  • 2 c. sugar 500 mL

Fill the steamer basket with chopped rhubarb. Extract the juice, measure and add two cups of sugar to 20 cups of rhubarb juice. Heat and boil for one minute to dissolve the sugar.
Freeze apple or rhubarb juice in 1 L containers or can in pint (500 ml) or quart (1 L) sealers. Follow the same procedure outlined below for canning the apple pie filling. Process both sealer sizes for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Apple pie filling

This delicious pie filling can be used for pies, crisps, or apple Danish.

  • 36 c. apples, sliced 9 L
  • 3 c. sugar 750 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice 30 mL

Select firm, cooking or pie-making apples. Wash, peel if needed, remove bruised or decayed parts, core apples and slice.
To prevent darkening, place the apples in a commercially produced solution of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or a mixture of ascorbic and citric acid, Fruit Fresh is a common brand. Follow the instructions on the container or use a solution of:

  • 1/4 c. lemon juice 60 mL
  • 4 c. water 1 L

Toss the apples in the solution.
Drain apples, combine with the sugar, salt, cinnamon and lemon juice in a large kettle. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer until all sugar is dissolved, about five minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken as the apples cook down.
Reuse the water solutions the apples were in for the apples that are cut up for juice or sauce. The solution can also be added to the apple juice.

To freeze:
Pack hot filling into one-quart (1L) size freezer containers leaving one inch of head space. Place containers in a sink of cold water to speed cooling, once cool cover, label and dry containers, then freeze.

To can:
Wash in hot soapy water nine one-quart (1 L) canning jars, rinse well. Check that jars are clean inside and that there are no nicks, cracks or uneven rim surfaces. Discard damaged jars.
Place the jars on a rack in the bottom of a boiling-water canner. Cover jars with water and heat to a simmer (180 F, 82 C).

Set screw bands aside; heat metal canning lids in hot, not boiling, water. Keep jars and metal lids hot until ready to use.
Place a canning funnel in the mouth of the sealer, ladle the hot filling into hot jars, leaving a two-inch (five centimetre) head space.
Slide a nonmetallic utensil, such as a rubber spatula, down between the food and the inside of the jar two or three times to release the air bubbles. It is essential that the two-inch (five cm) head space be used to prevent the contents of the sealer boiling out. Measure and readjust head space if necessary.
Wipe sealing edge of jar. Use a magnetic lid lifter to remove hot lid from water. Place lid on the jar, centring the sealing compound on the rim of the jar, place a screw band on the jar, tighten just to finger-tip tight.
Place jar in canner and continue filling the balance of the sealers. When all of the jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water. Cover canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time.
Process jars for 25 minutes. The rapid boil must continue for the duration of the processing time.
At the end of the processing time, turn the heat off and remove the canner lid. Let the canner cool for five minutes. This short standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could occur when the jars are moved.
After five minutes, remove the jars, lifting them out of the hot water with a jar lifter, without tilting them. Place jars upright on a towel in a draft-free place and let cool undisturbed for 24 hours. After 24 hours remove the screw bands, check that the lids have sealed, wipe the jars, label and store in a cool dark place. If any jars have not sealed properly refrigerate and use within a few days, or carefully freeze the jars.

Apple pie

Place one sealer of pie filling in an unbaked pie shell. Moisten edge of crust and add a top crust, pinch edges of crust to seal and cut a slit in the top to vent steam. Another option is to cover the filling with crisp topping, see below.
Place pie in a preheated 425 F (220 C) oven and bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F (180 C) and bake until filling is bubbling and crust is lightly browned, about 35 minutes.
Serve warm with a slice of cheddar cheese.

Apple crisp topping

This is a large batch of topping that can be used on pies or crisps. Freeze the extra to make a quick dessert. Yields about four crisps.

  • 6 c. oatmeal, quick or slow cooking 1.5 L
  • 1/2 c. flour 125 mL
  • 2 c. brown sugar 500 mL
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon 30 mL
  • 1-1/2 c. melted butter 375 mL

In a large bowl, blend all dry ingredients, add melted butter and mix until crumbly. Place one sealer of apple pie filling in an eight-inch (20 cm) square pan. Sprinkle the topping over fruit and bake at 375 F (190 C) for 30 minutes.

Recipe contest

We would love for you to share your favourite family recipes with us. A selection of the recipes will be printed in a December column. From all of the recipes received, we will make a draw for a variety of prairie-made products. Please submit your family favourite recipes to team@producer.com. All entries must be received by Nov. 8.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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