Abundance of Apples
You know the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” ? I’m not sure you can rely on that one thing to keep yourself healthy, but then I don’t need excuses to eat apples. This time of year it’s a good thing there are so many ways to use them, though.
We live in orchard country, where fruit of all kinds is available, each in its turn. By late autumn, the last of the pears and apples are on offer at fruit stands by the bag. There are eating apples like Spartans and Macintosh, winter keepers like Empires and Pink Ladys. My mind is awhirl with ideas of how to use them: pies, compote, dried chips, chutneys, roasted with meat or baked whole with spices.
I walk through a neighbouring orchard every morning with my trusty companion and fellow foodie, Ella – someone who has honed her skills to expert level in gleaning fruit. She likes her fruit more crunchy (read slightly green)
but I love it when the smell of the season is in the air. In the summer, the perfume of apricots, peaches and plums is intoxicating; once autumn begins there is a cozy aroma of apples and pears that helps warm me on those frosty morning strolls.
I was raised by parents from prairie roots with a combination of Scandinavian practicality and Scottish thrift, so I blame my heritage on my insatiable need to do something with all the bounty that literally falls at our feet. I know that what the fruit stand doesn’t sell will go back to the fields as compost to fuel the next season, but I still feel the need not to waste the harvest. (It’s that old litany, “Can’t be wasting!” ) I will admit, though, I am happily exhausted by the time the larder is full and friends have all been offered care packages.
As I get older, it dawns on me that I can’t possibly keep up this pace. Even if I opened up a shop full of jars of my wares, I don’t think I’d sell it all. I guess that’s where this blog comes in- it’s my virtual way of sharing, hopefully with kindred souls. Even if we are more often armchair eaters, our shared appreciation keeps the passion alive.
So, I’m going to give my fave 5 ideas for the fall fruit, and I’m hoping anyone out there with another idea will share it, too. I’m particularly interested in a coffee cake recipe – you know, the kind with the crumble on top?
- Apple chips – 5 hours at 125F in my Excalibur dehydrator makes apple slices a whole new treat. They can be added to morning yogurt with nuts and honey, or added to muffins or bread. They can even be added to loose tea for a bit of fruity flavour.
- Apple pie – lots of apples inside, and a generous amount of spice is what I like. Thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen for her updated classic as it provides the perfect proportions. I like the first piece with ice cream, and then the next piece the following day with cheddar cheese.
- Apple Brown Betty – this old-fashioned recipe used bread crumbs with apples to create a cross between bread pudding and crisp. I have never been able to find the recipe my Mom used, and she doesn’t remember it (probably because she made it for my Dad, but never liked it herself). My closest success is using apples with my Bread Pudding
- Roasted Rosemary Apple Slices with Pork Tenderloin – this dead-of-winter effort to add some brightness into dinner on a dark day was a real winner. Toss the apples in a bit of olive oil and rosemary and roast the last 30 minutes or so with your meat, or even with roasted veggies if you are making them (squash and/or carrots make nice bedfellows with apples).
- Baked Apples – My all-time favourite way of cooking apples, this takes me back to childhood. The secret here is using the right kind of apple: you need a variety that cooks/stores well. My best results have come with Braeburns. The other thing to remember is to not be stingy with the stuffing. As much mixed brown sugar and spices as you can manage in the hole where the core was, that’s what you want. Create a bain-marie by putting the apples in a roasting pan, stuff them and add boiling water about 1/3 of the way up the apples. Roast at 375F for about 45 minutes or until just soft. Serve warm, with a bit of whipped cream or crème fraîche if you want to be decadent.
Those of you who are counting calories can keep your cravings virtual; I plan on just working out harder so I can try a bite of everything.
Here’s to your good health!