I’d like to give my perspective on apple trees, and what to do with all those apples!
When we first moved here, I had a few grafted apple trees which I planted towards the bottom of our land, in a sheltered south-facing spot. They have been a mixed bag, a couple have survived quite well, and produced a reasonable crop. One sadly has been affected by canker, we have treated it but it’s still not happy. They are doing OK – but not great.
I had a plan before moving here of planting an orchard of ‘own root’ apple trees. I bought these from Phil Corbett of Cool Temperate.
These apple trees I planted higher up on my land, above the level that books say they harvest well (over 150m). They are also sheltered from the worst of the weather by a mature hedge.
The way these have grown is totally different. They are extremely vigorous, they take a hard pruning very well, and are positively laden with fruit.
I have had so many apples from them after only 6 years growth from maiden, I almost don’t know what to do with them.
So last year, we bought a dehydrator. We cut up the apples, peel core and all, into quarters. Cut out any nasty bits. Then put them into a large heavy bottomed pan and cook until they are just soft. Don’t overcook – you dont need to.
Then combine them with a red fruit – we have used blackberries in the past, this year we used our huge harvest of jostaberries (half gooseberry half blackcurrant) which we have kept in the freezer since August. Heat the jostaberries till defrosted and they start releasing their juice.
Mix the fruits together well, then put the mixture through a ‘mouli’ (I didn’t know what this was till my friend Jacqui told me!). A mouli is a rotary sieve which maximises the fruit saved whilst keeping any bits of pip etc out of the equation.
Then stir in sugar until dissolved, if the fruit is still hot you don’t even need to reheat the mixture. Or you can add honey instead. Honey apparently keeps the fruit leather for longer.
Put greaseproof paper into the bottom of each tray in the dehydrator, spread the mixture onto it and put on high for around 3 hours. This makes the most delicious and nutritious snack you can possibly put in a lunch box!
So now we have made many trays of fruit leather, but we still have apples! My next recipe suggestion is apple butter. I am also on a mission to make cider – but only so I can then use it to make Apple
Molasses. This is apparently on the ‘endangered foods list’! It’s basically boiled down cider, and a natural, sugar free replacement for honey or maple syrup.
Last on my list for the remaining glut is Apple Liqueur….why not? The recipe says just put sliced apples into a bottle with a 50/50 mix of vodka and brandy. Wait a few weeks, strain, and hey presto! A perfect, apple based Winter Warmer.
For more on Cool Temperate and own roots trees go to www.cooltemperate.co.uk
For more amazing apple recipes go to www.punkdomestics.com
My own root apple trees, autumn 2015