An or­chard bonanza

There are many ways to pre­serve your bumper har­vest of ap­ples this year. Han­nah Stephen­son of­fers a few ideas

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS -

Ap­ple grow­ers have re­ported a bumper har­vest this year, thanks to the scorch­ing sum­mer. But if you’ve a glut, how are you go­ing to store them all? Later va­ri­eties can be left on the tree un­til mid-Oc­to­ber, un­less re­ally windy weather is pre­dicted. Mid-sea­son ap­ples can be kept for a few weeks, while late ones will last you un­til next year. Good long-keep­ers in­clude ‘Granny Smith’, ‘Win­ston’, ‘Ty­de­man’s Late Or­ange’ and ‘Brown­lees Rus­set’.

When do you pick them?

No­tice how the fruit looks and smells. The way the fruit feels when you pick it will also help you as­sess if it’s ripe. Lift the fruit in your hand, twist it gen­tly and if it comes off the tree eas­ily then it should be ripe.

Be re­ally care­ful when pick­ing them as one bruise or blem­ish will cause the ap­ple to rot. The lit­tle bit of stem should stay in the ap­ple too.

How to store them

The tra­di­tional method of stor­ing ap­ples is to use wooden trays, which are placed on top of one an­other leav­ing space for ven­ti­la­tion, as this stops the fruit rot­ting. Wooden or­chard boxes are most com­monly used, al­though you can also store ap­ples in poly­styrene con­tain­ers with holes in them, or in fi­bre trays. Wrap each in­di­vid­ual ap­ple in news­pa­per and place them folded side down in the tray, en­sur­ing that the in­di­vid­ual fruits aren’t touch­ing. Store them in a frost-free, cool, dark place such as a shed. Six ways to pre­serve your ap­ples

1. Use a fruit press

Freshly pressed juice will keep in the fridge for a few days. Al­ter­na­tively, you can freeze the juice.

2. Cook up some chut­ney

Ap­ples make a great ad­di­tion to chut­neys, mixed with a com­bi­na­tion of vine­gar and salt or sugar, plus onions, gar­lic and a range of herbs, spices and sugar. Most chut­neys will keep in a sealed jar for up to a year.

3. Make ap­ple but­ter

If you have a slow cooker, this is ideal for mak­ing your own ap­ple but­ter to spread on toast or to glaze ham with. The peeled, cored and chopped ap­ples are mixed with sugar (or maple syrup), cin­na­mon, cloves and salt and then cooked slowly for nine to 10 hours un­til the mix­ture is thick­ened and dark brown, ready to trans­fer into ster­ilised glass jars.

4. Cook and freeze

Cooked ap­ple — whether it’s still chunky enough to go into a pie or soft and smooth enough for a sauce — freezes beau­ti­fully. Just peel, core, chop into large chunks, add sugar to taste and a lit­tle wa­ter to stop the ap­ples stick­ing to the bot­tom of the pan, keep an eye on them and cook ac­cord­ing to how soft you want the pieces to be­come. Al­low to cool and trans­fer to air­tight con­tain­ers.

5. Make crab ap­ple jelly

Crab ap­ples are bril­liant for mak­ing jelly. Wash them and cut them up with­out peel­ing or cor­ing, put them into a large saucepan and add enough wa­ter to just cover the fruit. Sim­mer un­til the fruit is soft and has bro­ken down, then strain through a muslin or tea cloth, with­out forc­ing the liq­uid out. Mea­sure the juice and re­turn it to a clean pan, warm­ing it up, adding 10 parts juice to seven of sugar and stir un­til dis­solved. Bring to the boil and con­tinue boil­ing un­til set­ting point (about half an hour), when it will so­lid­ify on the back of the spoon. Re­move any sur­face scum, pour it into warm ster­ilised jars, cover and leave to set.

6. Dry them

Peel, core and finely slice your ap­ples across, so they form cir­cles with a hole in the mid­dle. Dunk them in a bowl of wa­ter adding a lit­tle vine­gar or le­mon juice to stop them go­ing brown, then leave for around half an hour. Dry and cool and trans­fer to a barely-warm oven for a few hours, un­til they are leath­ery and dry to the touch. Once the ap­ples are out of the oven and cooled, store in an air­tight con­tainer.

LONG LAST­ING: ap­ples have to be stored care­fully

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