ArchiveOctober 2, 2022


We’re right bang in the middle of the Irish apple season and for some varieties it’s a bumper season- we’ve got so many, we can scarcely cope…..
There are big baskets brimming with apples in the hall of the cookery school with a sign saying ‘Delicious Home-grown Apples – Help Yourself’.
So many different old-fashioned varieties, the sort one can never find in a supermarket – Strippy, Irish Pitcher, Egremont Russet, Ard Cairn Russet, Pig’s Snout, Pitmaston Pineapple,  Ballinora Pippen…
We make every effort to pick up all the windfalls.

If like me you can’t bear to see the apples rotting on the ground, how about some ideas for using up a glut.  You’ll want to share some with your friends and if you have a Ukrainian refuge close by, a basket, brimming with apples will be warmly welcomed and you can share recipes, maybe discover the secret of a favourite Ukrainian apple tart.
So where to start?

You can juice, purée, pickle, dry, make jams and jellies or of course a myriad of chutneys and pies. Let’s start with juice. Homemade apple juice is infinitely tastier than any commercial variety – you’ll need a juicer. (Juice extractor). If you fancy making cider maybe invest in a traditional apple press and share with friends.  How fun would that be?
Freshly pressed juice will keep for a day or two in the fridge in dark sterilised bottles or it can be frozen. We use recycled litre milk containers. Don’t fill completely to the top to allow for expansion during freezing. They’ll stack neatly in a freezer. Alternatively, pasteurise the juice but it will lose its fresh flavour and many of its nutrients.
Dried apples slices make a terrific nibble. Kids love them and you may find yourself munching one or two instead of chocolate when you are hankering for something sweet.
Choose dessert apples, don’t even bother to peel. Just core and slice thinly. Dip them in a solution of freshly squeezed lemon juice and water and maybe a little honey to stop them oxidising.
One can dry apples in several ways:
Lay the dipped slices in a single layer on a wire rack over a baking tray.  Pop in a fan oven at the lowest heat, fan 50˚C or not more than 100˚C. Flip over after an hour and continue until dry. Store in cellophane bags. Alternatively, use a dehydrator, Nisbets, Lakeland or Amazon have them. They are a brilliant bit of Kitchen kit and can be used for drying everything from rose petals to orange or pineapple slices, mushrooms, jerky…it may also be worth trawling through eBay for a second-hand bargain.
Stewed apple or apple purée is a brilliant standby and can be used in a myriad of different ways. I love icy cold stewed apple with a dribble of Jersey cream. It brings childhood memories whooshing back and who doesn’t love stewed apples and custard and of course baked apples.  Make a delicious, puréed apple sauce and freeze in small containers to serve with roast duck or a pork chop.

How about making apple leather.  Just spread a thin layer of not too sweet apple purée onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cook as above in a fan oven at the lowest temperature or not higher than 80˚C. I do mine in the coolest oven of my ancient Aga. Leave it overnight and it will peel easily off the parchment. Next day, roll it up in parchment and store in an airtight tin – another irresistible nibble.
You might like to try this apple and cinnamon vodka too, you could gift it to a friend for Christmas but not sure you’ll have it that long…
Here’s a recipe for an apple and tomato chutneywe love and an apple and rosemary tart and don’t forget about apple jelly – a brilliant way to use up every last windfall apple and whatever wild berries you can find – elderberries, sloes, haws, blackberries, japonica, medlars…(See my column of 10th September for the recipe).
Enjoy the glut but try not to waste a single bit of nature’s bounty.
Check out my Forgotten Skills Book published my Kyle Books for lots and lots of recipes and suggestions…

Apple and Tomato Chutney

There are a million recipes for tomato chutney. This is definitely one of the best and has the advantage of using up a glut of windfall apples as well.

Makes 12 x 450g (1lb) pots

3.6kg (8lbs) ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) onions, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) eating apples, peeled and chopped

925g (2lbs 1oz) sugar

850ml (scant 1 1⁄2 pints) white malt vinegar

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

3 teaspoons ground black pepper

3 teaspoons allspice

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 level teaspoon cayenne pepper

350g (12oz) sultanas

Prepare all the ingredients and put into a large, wide stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to the boil. Simmer steadily, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until reduced by one-third and slightly thick. Pot in sterilised jars, cover with non-reactive lids and store in a cool, dry place.

Bramley Apple and Rosemary Pan Cake

Try this combination of apple and fresh rosemary, I think you’ll love it … you could add a little chopped rosemary to the softly whipped cream to for extra oomph…. 

Serves 10 – 12

150g (5oz) sugar

75ml (3fl oz) water

600g (1 1/4lbs) Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 7mm (1/3 inch) slices

150g (5oz) soft butter

175g (6oz) sugar

200g (7oz) self-raising flour

generous pinch of salt

3 eggs, free-range and organic

1-2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 x 25cm (10 inch) stainless-steel sauté pan or a cast iron frying pan

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Put the sugar and water into the pan.  Stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then cook without stirring until the sugar caramelizes to golden brown (if the caramel is not dark enough the tart will be too sweet).

Meanwhile arrange the peeled and sliced apples in a pretty pattern over the caramel…. Careful not to burn your fingertips… Use a fork to place the apples so as not to touch the caramel.

Put the butter, sugar, flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor.   Whizz for a second or two, add the eggs and stop as soon as the mixture comes together, add the chopped rosemary and whizz for a second.  Add milk to soften the mixture.  

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 40-45 minutes.   The centre should be firm to the touch and the edges slightly shrunk from the sides of the pan.   Allow to rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes before turning out.   Serve with crème fraiche or softly whipped cream and soft brown sugar…. 

Brambly Apple and Sweet Geranium Sauce

The secret of really good apple sauce is to use a heavy-based saucepan and very little water. The apples should break down into a fluff during the cooking. 

450g (1lb) cooking apples, (Brambley Seedling)

1-2 dessertspoons water

50g (2oz) sugar approx. depending on tartness of the apples

2-4 sweet geranium leaves

Peel, quarter and core the apples, cut pieces in two and put in a small stainless steel or cast-iron saucepan, with the sugar, water and sweet geranium, cover and put over a low heat, as soon as the apple has broken down, stir and taste for sweetness. Serve warm with the pork and gravy.

Apple Tarte Tatin

The ultimate French apple tart. The Tatin sisters ran a restaurant at Lamotte-Beuvron in Sologne at the beginning of the century.  They created this tart, some say accidentally, but however it came about it is a triumph – soft, buttery caramelised apples (or indeed you can also use pears) with crusty golden pastry underneath.  It is unquestionably my favourite French tart! One can buy a special copper tatin especially for this tart.

Serves 6-8

1.24kg (2 3/4lbs) approx. Golden Delicious, Cox’s Orange Pippin or Bramley Seedling cooking apples

175g (6oz) puff pastry or rich sweet shortcrust pastry

110g (4oz) unsalted butter

210g (7 1/2oz) castor sugar

a heavy 20.5cm (8 inch) tatin mould or copper or stainless-steel sauté pan with low sides

Preheat the oven to 220˚C/425˚F/Gas Mark 7 for puff pastry.  For shortcrust 180˚C/350˚F/Gas Mark 4.

First, roll out the pastry into a round slightly larger than the saucepan.  Prick it all over with a fork and chill until needed.

Peel, halve and core the apples.  Melt the butter in the saucepan, add the sugar and cook over a medium heat until it turns golden – fudge colour.  Put the apple halves in upright, packing them in very tightly side by side.  Replace the pan on a low heat and cook until the sugar and juice are a dark caramel colour. Hold your nerve otherwise it will be too pale.  Put into a hot oven for approx. 15 minutes.

Cover the apples with the pastry and tuck in the edges.  Put the saucepan into the fully preheated oven until the pastry is cooked and the apples are soft, 25-30 minutes approx.  For puff pastry reduce the temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 after 10 minutes.

Take out of the oven and rest for 5-10 minutes or longer if you like.  Put a plate over the top of the saucepan and flip the tart on to a serving plate.  (Watch out – this is a rather tricky operation because the hot caramel and juice can ooze out).  Reshape the tart if necessary and serve warm with softly whipped cream.


Pear Tarte Tatin

Substitute pears for apples in the above recipe.

Apple and Cinnamon Vodka

Fill a sterilised glass jar with chopped apples, add a couple of cinnamon sticks and 200-250g (7-9oz) sugar depending on the variety of apple.  Cover in vodka, seal, shake and allow to infuse for 4-14 days. Strain and pour into sterilised bottles, cover tightly and enjoy over ice or with tonic water.


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