Was back at work finally this week, after having almost a month away for my surgery and recovery. It was a relief to finally have something to get me out of the house and keep my mind busy!
While I had time off, I took the opportunity to do a few things around my mothers house. This included helping pick all the apples off of her crabapple tree, roasting them down to extract the juice for cider. Here is how I did it!
First, the hard part. Get a group of people and pick those apples! I put them directly into buckets of cold water to keep them from bruising on Me, this also helped start the cleaning process. Soon you will have all the apples you need and more! One large garbage pail got me a carboy of juice to process, to give you an idea on the amounts required.
First, you have to remove the stems. Its not an easy job, I recommend sitting around with friends getting help. I put another bucket of water out that we move the apples over to as we work. Once all the apples got stemmed, they were rinsed and moved back into the large pail that I then filled with water again. I didn’t get back to them again until the next day, keeping it in a shaded shed. The water will keep them fresh overnight, especially when covered!
After all the stemming comes trimming and cooking. Blossom ends of the apples come off. Any large bruises or soft areas also get trimmed. Seeds can stay unless they are split open, if cracked or sliced they need to be removed and tossed. Slice the apples, not in half but along side the core -its faster if you don’t go through the seeds.
Sliced apples go in a roasting pan and some stove top pots, in water with a dash of vinegar to keep them from browning. Enough to be floating, but not enough water to lift off the bottom.
It took over an hour at 350f for apples to soften in the oven, and only about 30-45 minutes boiling on the stove top! Next time I’m going to focus my energy on the stove top.
Once they have boiled enough to burst, I give them a smash with a potato masher. Then I let it boil for a bit longer to allow everything to fall apart.
While doing this I set up cheese cloth in a colander that fits in the top of a 5 gallon bucket.
Cooked apple gets drained, left until there are no more drips.
I squeezed out the apple in a separate container, the pressed juice is cloudy, more suited for freezing as apple concentrate (just add water and sugar for juice).
At this point you can either press the mushy apple through a sieve or use a ricer to produce unsweetened apple sauce. Usually needs sugar. Can be processed and canned, sweetened as necessary, sweetened in advance, or cooked down into apple butter. This would be an entirely different post!
My plans revolved around a cider. It’ll be good in winter when Christmas rolls around, for now I’ve added sugar, local Saskatoon berries, and champagne yeast to get it on its way.
Here is my cider after it was racked at the end of a week, really darkened from the berries I added. It smells great, hopefully it turns out that way! All we can do now is wait and see.
Hopefully this gave you some tips and ideas as to what to do with the crabapples you come across! Processing, preserving, and making the best use of local ingredients can really lower your food bill. Even if you don’t have a garden, there are plenty of sales and opportunities where you can pick up items to save for the off season.
Thanks for popping in! Next week I’ll try getting another food recipe out, I was (with good reason) stressed enough to have other concerns this week. Monday afternoon I go in to find out more about my biopsy, and the treatment plan involved in getting rid of the last of the cancer.