I have an ancient apple tree that I love for its gnarly looks rather than its apples, which most years are so scarce, small and lumpy that even the squirrels can hardly be bothered. But thanks to all the rain this year, my old tree is laden with good-sized apples, apparently thousands of them. I have no idea of the variety, but they’re delicious, crisp and tart. I hate waste, so what I can’t give away I’m making into pies and tarts, and apple turnovers by the dozen to keep, uncooked, in the freezer.
Turnovers are easy to prepare, and they make a tasty dessert for casual dinners, or you can serve them up at teatime, if you’re into showing off at 4 p.m. I prefer to make shortcrust pastry, but using store-bought puff pastry sheets cuts prep time to a matter of minutes. Mix apple slices with cinnamon and sugar (brown or white). Cut the pastry into four- or five-inch squares and add a good dollop of the apple mix to each, leaving about an inch around the edge. Fold the pastry into a triangle, crimp the edges to seal, and create a couple of steam vents. Brush the tops with beaten egg and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. Done!
If pastry seems like too much bother, apple slices poached in butter for six or seven minutes, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar, and served with ice cream are about as simple a dessert as you can get.
I discovered chutney isn’t common in this country when I presented several puzzled friends with jars of homemade stuff for Christmas one year. What to do with it? Well, it’s a must with Indian food, of course, really good spread on a cheese sandwich, and a much more interesting accompaniment to cold cuts or roasted meats than blah applesauce.
This is a basic recipe to which you can add tomatoes or dates, even hot pepper flakes if you want to spice it up. The idea is to end up with a jammy consistency. Add water if the mix starts to stick before the apples are cooked.
- 15 tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped into half-inch dice
- 1 big yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 1 cup cider or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 cup raisins
- Combine the ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in while, until the mixture is thick, and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Allow the mix to cool for a minute, then ladle it into sterilized jars.
You can seal and process the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes, if you want to be super safe. I just cap mine and store them in the cellar, or in the fridge after they’ve been opened. The chutney tastes best after a week or so, and keeps for a long time. We’re still working our way through last year’s batch at our house.
I can hear apples hitting the ground as I type. Apple dumplings, apple butter, apple cider — here I come.