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MARGARET PROUSE: Autumn brings apple abundance

Use freshly picked fruit to make pies, jellies and crisps for the dinner table, says Margaret Prouse.
Use freshly picked fruit to make pies, jellies and crisps for the dinner table, says Margaret Prouse.

My husband and I have taken on the annual challenge of using the bushels of juicy Courtland apples that our 2 trees produce. 

If we had a basement cold room, or a root cellar that didn’t freeze, it would be easy, but we don’t, so we save some for eating fresh, find ways to preserve as many as we can, and make plenty of dishes containing apples.

The majority of the apples go into the freezer. That’s his job (as is picking the apples), and he has developed an assembly line of peeling with a mechanical peeler, coring and cutting into wedges, measuring 2 litre lots– the perfect amount for a quick apple crisp or pie – stirring in sugar and colour preserver, and packing in labeled freezer bags. The amount of sugar has decreased over the years, as we find we don’t want them as sweet as the original instructions suggested. We’ve halved the 125 mL (½ C) of sugar per 2 L (8 C) of prepared apples, and now use 50 mL (¼ cup) of sugar, along with 40 mL (8 tsp) of Fruit Fresh to keep them white.  

To make apple crisp, we just place the contents of 1 bag of frozen apples into a 2 L (8 inch) square baking dish, add a sweet buttery rolled oats topping, and bake at 180°C (350°F) for about an hour until the apples are soft and the topping browned.

As apples contain ample pectin and acid, they are perfect for making jelly without the addition of commercial pectin. This year, I made a batch of spiced apple jelly, flavoured with cinnamon sticks and whole cloves, and a little apple cider vinegar for extra tang. It will be good to serve with crackers or homemade biscuits and cream cheese, and also to glaze carrots, or to accompany pork chops.  

We enjoy two recipes that claim Nordic origins, Norwegian apple pie and Finnish apple pancake. The apple pie is an easy-to-make dessert, more like a coffee cake studded with chunks of apple than a pastry-enclosed apple pie. The apple in the batter keeps it fresh and moist for several days.

I received the recipe from a coworker decades ago when we lived in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, known for its apple orchards. I still refer to the stained recipe that Hilda wrote by hand on a large sheet of white stationary.  The only changes I’ve made are to add metric measurements, reduce the sugar by ⅓ and omit the 2 mL (½ tsp) of salt.

The 175 mL (¾ cup) of chopped nuts is optional, but given the affinity that apples and nuts have for one another, I add them.

Norwegian Apple Pie

2 eggs, beaten

250 mL (1 cup) sugar

250 mL (1 cup) all purpose flour

10 mL (2 tsp)  baking powder

5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla

175 mL (¾ C) chopped nuts (optional)

625 mL (2½ C) chopped peeled apples

Mix well, and pour into a greased deep-dish pie plate. Bake for 40 minutes in a preheated 180°C (350°F) oven. Serve with whipped cream.

Finnish Apple Pancake makes a tasty breakfast dish, with bacon on the side, or not. While the recipe says it serves two, we usually get four servings from it.

 

Finnish Apple Pancake

(From Callaghan, Bev. RD and Lynn Roblin, RD: “Dietitians of Canada Great Food Fast”. Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2000)

500 mL (2 C)  thinly sliced apples, peeled and cored

15 mL (1 tbsp) butter

3 eggs

125 mL (½ C) milk

75 mL (⅓ C)   all purpose flour

1 mL (¼ tsp) baking powder

0.5 mL (⅛ tsp) salt (I omit)

Topping

2 mL (½ tsp) cinnamon

15 mL (1 tsp) granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Grease a 2 L (8 inch) square baking pan.

Place apples and butter in pan; toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, baking powder and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Topping: In another small bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Pour egg mixture over cooked apples; sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until pancake is puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately with maple syrup or your favourite fruit preserves.

 

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at prouse@pei.sympatico.ca.

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