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October 23, 2006

Apples, Tomatoes and Pears - Oh My!

The mother-in-law of one of the moms in my homeschool group grows organic apples in the Okanagan, and last week she apparently had a bunch that were not in good enough shape to send to market and asked my friend if she knew anyone who would want them. I was the lucky benefactor of these gorgeous apples (25 pounds of them) and there was absolutely nothing wrong with them that I could see!

Armed with my trusty apple peeler (which peels, cores, and slices all in one fell swoop)...

...I turned most of them into apple sauce. I used Tammie's idea of flavoured sauces, adding fruit and spices to make three different batches.

The end result was 5 pints each of Strawberry, Blueberry, and Spiced Apple sauce. The kids gave them a big thumbs up. They're a bit more rustic than some sauces, as I didn't remove the berry seeds and stray bits of peel with a food mill. Instead I used my immersion blender to incorporate them into the sauce (I kind of like that little bit of texture).

I also froze a bunch of the apples, unpeeled but cored and sliced, and sealed them in pairs with my Foodsaver (I scored a huge box of generic vacuum sealer bags on Freecycle yesterday!). Each apple is approximately 2 cups, which is just the right amount for my favorite apple muffin recipe.

I ended up with a mountain of apple skins and cores after all this. Hating to throw them all in the compost, I started a batch of the apple wine that Tammie talked about recently (she seems to be my apple idea connection!). It turns out she had the same thought and is making a similar batch. I'm hoping that the seeds don't impart a bad flavour to the final product - we should know in about a month.

On Friday I got another few pounds of pears from my friend with the pear tree, so on top of everything else I made a batch of Pear Frangelico jam (a recipe from Well Preserved that I've been dying to try). With its nice hazelnut flavour, I bet it will taste wonderful on crepes.
And just because I'm a sucker for punishment, I also canned four quarts of tomatoes (this was all at the same time that I was making the green tomato relish yesterday). I decided to go on a final canning blitz yesteday so that everything would finally be done.
After 7 or 8 hours spent standing over the stove, my cupboards are full, the canner has been put away, and I'm feeling very content.

14 comments:

Lu said...

You can freeze apples? I never knew! They don't get mushy??

Lu said...

Oops sorry! One more question: I've always wondered if those apple peelers are an unnecessary gadget, but it seems you love yours. Is this particular brand the "one" to have? Thank you again!

The Unusually Unsual Farmchick said...

I do love reading your blog Cheryl. I always leave with a smile. Thank you.
I did taste test the wine with the peels and I cannot tell a real difference myself at 1 week early of ripening.. Now what shall we call it? apple peel wine seems so plain. Such a discovery deserves a good name.
~Tammie

Cheryl said...

Lu - You can absolutely freeze apples. My mom has always done it and nobody's ever complained about her pies! Most books will tell you that they have to be treated with sugar or an acid to keep them from browning, but apples turn brown when you cook them anyway, so I never bother.
As for the peeler, I can't imagine having processed 25 pounds as painlessly as I did without it. It does leave a small amount of skin on either end of the apple, but that's not a big deal for me. This one can probably be found elsewhere (it's not made by Lee Valley and I don't see a name on it). I can't say whether others would be the same.

Tammie - That's so nice of you to say! Thank you.
I'm glad to hear that the wine seems to be working! I'll start wracking my brain for a suitable name.

Lu said...

Cheryl - if you have a moment, could you take a look at William Sonoma website. Their apple peel (save for the color) looks identical to yours in form and function, and pricing is similar as well. What do you think? I may go with this one.

Cheryl said...

Lu - That certainly looks just like mine, and the box that mine came in showed that it also comes in red, so I'd be willing to bet that its the same one.

Lu said...

Cheryl, thanke for taking a moment to respond to my question about the apple machine.

I should mention that I bought a bushel of apples from our local farmers' market last weekend. Years ago, I used to pack them in plastic bags and keep in our extra little refrigerator. The apple farmer this year told me to wrap each apple in a paper towel to keep over the winter and that I will be amazed how good and fresh they stay throughout the winter. I did that so I am eager to see the results. He said a woman bought a bushel from him end of season 2005 and when the market opened in June 2006, she brought him an apple that was perfect and said it was from the 2005 purchase. Here's hoping! Plus, I will try my hand at freezing some and using my Food Saver. Just sharing! Lu

Cheryl said...

Lu - That's such a great tip! I have about 15 pounds of apples in the fridge that I'm hoping will last a few months, maybe I should give that a try.
Thanks!

Lu said...

Do you own Ina Garten's cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Parties"? I made a soup (and Chinese chicken salad) from this book last night. OHMYGOSH. The soup is made with butternut squash and apples. It has curry powder and fresh apple cider in it as well. The complexity of flavors is wonderful. I believe that the recipe is available on www.foodnetwork.com for a limited time right now. Anyone who loves apples and squash will love this soup. Cheryl, take a look, I think you can find another use for your apples!

Phelan said...

You want me to ship you some more apples?

I have been meaning to try Tammie's ideas. Just need to motivate.

Cheryl said...

Lu - I will definitely track down that soup recipe, it sounds like something we'd all enjoy. Thanks!

Phelan - Do you still have apples kicking around?! You must be so sick of them by now.
I was thinking about you while using my Freecycled vacuum bags. I had a heck of a time getting the machine to suction the air out of them, and I remembered you saying that you had a hard time with that with yours. The Foodsaver bags work so much better (they have little textured channels in the plastic to help the air escape) - I wonder if you used them in your machine if you would have better luck?
Just a thought!

Farmgirl said...

Great photos. Love the idea of flavored applesauce. Those jars look beautiful. You sure are doing a wonderful job of living sustainably and frugally on your mini homestead. (I'm exhausted just from reading about all that you've been busy doing.) Congratulations and three cheers to you! : )

Cheryl said...

Farmgirl - Thank you so much for your lovely comment!

Carla said...

Your peeler looks awesome, the sort of tool needed to get the job done. Mine's not nearly as efficient.

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