So, in all seriousness, has Edmonton always had this many apples? Have I just been oblivious to it? Because this year I’m feeling like the apples are completely out of control.
A few weeks ago, Allan and I first learned about Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) and I was thrilled. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a group that will pick fruit for people who are overwhelmed by the trees in their yards, splitting the fruit between the grower, the pickers, and the Food Bank. If you’re looking for a fun activity and some free food, I highly recommend it. We’ve gone to one pick, and came home with more apples than I had any idea what to do with.
Around the same time, my amazing coworker Melanie, who is kind of like my workplace mom if my mom were Taiwanese, started to panic that her apple trees were dropping fruit everywhere and it was going to waste. So she started bringing huge bags of apples to work, and started insisting that the rest of us eat them. Wanting to make her happy because she is completely awesome, we went to work on them. A few of my coworkers and I started a sort of informal competition to see who could eat the most, and pretty quickly I was eating around 10 a day. Erik, a particularly ambitious apple-eater at work, has been happy to remind me that “every apple you don’t eat is Melanie being offended a little more”. Thanks. I have never so completely lost interest in a food before in my life, with the possible exception of the fried rice incident of 2005.
So long story short, I found myself completely sick of, but still surrounded by, apples. And since the pick we went to was a Sunday afternoon, I was left trying to deal with them in the few hours I have of free time after work every night, instead of a nice open weekend of canning. I am happy to report, however, that only a tiny fraction of my apple haul has gone bad, and most of those were probably not the greatest at time of picking, anyway.
My first project was applesauce.
I was trying to put it off until I could track down a good food mill or hand-cranked sieve, but I was starting to panic that the apples would not hold out. So I googled how to make applesauce with no special equipment, and found directions. However, instead of some brilliantly simple applesauce method, the directions basically said “peel and core all the apples beforehand, sucker.” So I did.
Weekday evening time constraints and general laziness dictated that this was to be a very small batch of apple sauce, yielding only4 lumpy-but-tasty half-pints. I served the it the next day with pork chops and a side of fried apple and potato hashbrown-type-things. The rest of it can wait until I’ve had a little break from apples.
Next I tried to use some up in baking, and made a delicious apple crisp, shown here with vanilla gelato and a drizzle of Lola Canola honey:
This, however, seemed to use up hardly any apples. So my final apple project was chosen mostly because it used a whole lot of them.
Apple butter is basically seasoned, thickened apple sauce. To make it, I made a large batch of apple sauce, added spices (cinnamon, allspice, cloves) and sugar, and reduced it first on the stove and then in the oven for a total of about 12 hours. Perfect for turning a ton of apples into a manageable amount of delicious spread. And the bonus is, my mother-in-law was kind enough to loan me this bizarre-looking contraption for pressing apple sauce out of apples that weren’t peeled and cored before-hand. Thank god.
And that’s that. I am officially done with apples this year.