I am used to swapping produce and seedlings with friends and neighbours throughout the year, but apples are the one thing we can’t give away.  Around here, everyone has a tree or easy access to one and they don’t need any more.  

We have three apple trees – an ancient cooker of indeterminate variety, a mature eater Annie Elizabeth and a russet St Edmund’s Pippin that’s barely out of it’s stakes.  Each year there is an embarrassment of apples.  With so many stone fruit still to eat, we eat very few of our apples straight from the tree. 

I’ve always liked the idea of getting an old wooden apple rack, but I suspect we wouldn’t be able to put it anywhere cold enough to store the apples until Spring.  Instead, we have amassed a large collection of the moulded cardboard with individual compartments that the supermarkets sell nectarines in.  The best quality apples come straight off the tree, into tray compartments and into a stack in the fridge.  They can last for some months like this if you have the space.

On the day of writing I am making our annual batch of apple chutney.  We wouldn’t be without it, but it uses a disappointingly low number of apples – only 3 kilos.  Chutney makes an excellent Christmas present and we enjoy it with baked potatoes through winter.  The Cottage Smallholder has an excellent recipe online.

Next I will be making apple sauce with the cookers, for the freezer.  Two years ago I accidentally burned the bottom of a batch and now we prefer it that way.   I originally imagined that I would use it in desserts, but it more often gets used as the base of a savoury sauce to slow-cook pork. 

Most of the Annie Elizabeths are blighted in some way and don’t last, so I peel and slice a lot of these for the freezer.  They make a good hot dessert in winter.

And still there are apples left.  We have no use for apple juice, but this year I’m going to try making apple cider vinegar.   Next week….or maybe the week after….  In the meantime a lot of the remainder will fall on the ground and end up in the compost.  I suppose they sustain the garden food chain: particularly earwigs, slugs, the resident hedgehog and a fox.

Text and Images (C) Claire @theslowfix A slow food devotee, Claire is constantly searching for new ways to enable us all to live sustainably.

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