All about Apples, part 2

By Catherine
Red and green apple

Let's continue to talk about apples. In our garden these apples are the next batch to mature and I simply call them Apple-pie apples, since that's what they do best. You can probably find them in different colors; but our varieties are yellow-red and slightly larger than our other apples, more oval than round in their shape.

These apples are perfect in food and baked dishes. They always retain their shape, meaning that even when they are soft; your apple pie has nice wedges. If you microwave a wedge it will hold its shape, regardless for how long you cook it. I don't know any other apples that does that, so they are easy to recognize.

If you puree these apples you get a grainy puree that feels like eating sand. These apples are very dry and the meat is firm, you can even chop and fry them without any problems. 
I use these apples for pies, in casseroles and I also dry them.

The easiest way to dry apples, if you don’t have a hydrator, is to remove the center, slice them thinly and hang them on a string. It’s difficult to dry apples in the oven, since they becomes more baked than dried. Store them in an airtight container and they will last all winter.

My grandma used to call them Compote-apples or jam-apples

If you want a quick treat or something nice on a Sunday morning. Chop some apples in quarter inch pieces. Fry them with butter, add some sugar and cinnamon. While still hot spread them over toast and enjoy to a nice cup of coffee. Works as well on a Friday evening over ice-cream.

That brings us to another apple, the next batch that matures in our garden. My grandma used to call them Compote-apples or jam-apples.

These are the most beautiful of our apples, with strong colors and a classic apple shape. Compote-apples are moist and delicious to eat; though they have a very thick skin so you have to peal them. These apples are common in stores during the autumn. It's a sturdy little apple that is easy to handle.

If you microwave a wedge until it’s soft, parts of it will be mushy and other parts will remain as soft chunks. That’s what so special with this apple and it makes the best jam ever with a beautiful golden color.

If you puree or strain them, they will get grainy. The trick is to peal them, cut them in ¾ inch pieces and boil them until they are soft. The result is a gelatinous jam with small apple pieces in it, hence compote. I use 2 cups of water to one gallon cut apples. It takes 20-30 minutes to boil them on low heat, just stir occasionally so they don’t burn. If the apples are to dry, add some more water. When it’s boiled; add sugar. I use 2-4 cups for a gallon of apples, depending on how sweet they are. We like our jam to be a little on the sour side so you might want to use more sugar. Fill the jar while the jam I still hot, fasten the lid and turn them upside down and let them cool.

This is our favorite jam and it’s so versatile. I use it as a premade pie filling and as a pudding. It’s delicious on pancakes instead of syrup. 

The jam is also perfect as a pre-cooked stewed fruit; when I was a kid I ate stewed fruit with milk as a breakfast treat, my mother still eats it almost every day as her favorite lunch. Take a jar of jam, add half a jar of water and 2-3 tablespoons of corn flour. Boil it on low heat until it thickens, set a side and let it cool down.

Stewed fruit is a sometimes forgotten treat and a perfect pudding, if you want it more festive add some vanilla and cinnamon to it. And by the way, it’s great with ice-cream if you don't like milk.

Unlike other thick skinned apples, Compote-apples can’t be stored. During the first year with the orchard, I still lived with the belief that all thick skinned apples can be stored over winter. The mess was a fact later that autumn, when we had a slight catastrophe in the basement.  Fermented, rotten apples that spread an uncomfortable odor over the entire house, the weather didn't permit any outdoor cleaning so there was nothing else to do than head for the bathtub. Now days I have a better understanding of what I can, and can not, store.

Compote-apples becomes rubbery if you dry them, so I don't recommend that. Since they have thick skin, you can handle them without spoiling them and it doesn’t matter if they fall of the tree, they won't spoil.