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