This has been a mighty year for apples, what a crop! To help you harness any gluts of fruit you or your neighbours might have in your gardens, I’d put together a list of my five favourite ways to preserve apples for enjoying over the months ahead.
1. Apple Juice
My favourite way to enjoy that crisp, fresh flavour is by juicing. It’s a fantastic way to use odds & sods – particularly smaller, misshapen apples or ones that aren’t in perfect condition for storing. We like to mix varieties including dessert & cooking apples for a well rounded flavour. We currently use a simple fruit crusher & presser like this one, chopping the fruit roughly before feeding into the crusher. However, as our trees start to mature, producing bigger crops we’re looking to upgrade to a more efficient system that will allow us to process more apples & get more juice from them for next year! Once you have your juice, you can either pasturise it by heating & store it in sterilised bottles. We prefer the fresh raw flavour, so freeze it in food-grade plastic bottles for up to a year.
2. Apple Crisps
A wonderful way to concentrate the flavour of any apples that might seem a little bland fresh! Wash, core & then slice your apples thinly before popping into a large bowl of cold salted water to sterlise. Then dry in a food dehydrator or string through the cored hole onto clean oiled bamboo canes hung from a sunny window until crisp. Store in sealed Kilner jars & enjoy as a snack whenever you get the munchies.
3. Apple Puree
Add a spoon-ful of apple puree, a drizzle of honey & a dusting of cinnamon for the ultimate topping to a bowl of porridge. To make, core & then roughly chop your apples (with skins!) & stew in a pan on a medium heat until the apples have started breaking apart. Add a glug of water at the start of stewing to ensure the apples don’t stick to the base of your pan. Once cooked, add unrefined sugar to taste & then blend until smooth with a stick blender. If you’d like to store your puree in jars, bring back to a simmer & then pour into sterilised jars. If you’d like to freeze, allow to cool before pouring into freezer bags.
4. Apple Chutney
Chutneys are a great way of hoovering up gluts of not only apples but also monster marrows & green tomatoes I like this versatile recipe which also uses barberries (berries of the common garden shrub Berberis darwinii – a hidden edible in many garden hedging mixes!)
5. Apple Leathers
Sounds like a terrible thing to do with an apple but fruit leathers are better branded as fruit winders & make a wonderfully chewy snack. Follow the steps for making apple puree above but instead of popping into a jar, spread the puree thinly on non-stick re-useable baking paper sheets in a food dehydrator or in a low oven (150 deg C) until the puree has dried to form a sheet which can easily be peeled off. To store, wind the sheet like a swiss roll on a fresh sheet of regular baking paper & then slice into little spiraling sections & pack into a large sealed jar for storage. You can add other fruit to the mix, blackberries a classic but any other gluts of Autumn fruit can be blended into the puree before drying.
Hope this has given you some ideas of what to do with all your apples. If you’re reading this wishing you had a crop of your own & have the space, why not plant an apple tree or two!? Irish Seed Savers, Future Forests & Heritage Fruit Tree Nursery all do a fantastic selection of heritage Irish varieties to try.
Need any advice on getting the right apple trees for your garden or help improving the harvests you get from your apple trees? We offer virtual gardening advice sessions no matter where you’re based!