An apple a day keeps the doctor away according to traditional wisdom and a famous old Irish proverb. Here in Canada’s Maritimes we get plenty of apples in our diet, much of it free or really cheap. There’s an abundance of wild, random apples trees growing along roadsides, in farm hedges, gardens and deep in the forest. They aren’t perfect apples like the ones you get in the grocery store but we make a lot of delicious products with them.
Did you know there are over 7500 different varieties of apples grown across the world or that apples are part of the rose family?
Orchard Rejects & Wild Apples
This year we changed things up a bit and rather than foraging for apples we bought five bushels of “orchard reject” apples for CAD $12 a Bushel. A good percentage of apples grown at orchards won’t meet today’s commercial and silly specification guidelines (I read that sometimes 40% of an orchards apples don’t pass). If you ask around and get lucky you can buy these apples from an orchard for a very fair price.
The Value Of Preserving Your Own Food
What did we get out of five bushels (approximately 250lb of apples)? We got about 94 jars of food & drink plus two gallons of apple cider vinegar and one gallon of hard apple cider. I think that is a pretty good return on a $60 investment in apples. If we add the cost for sugar, vinegar and some dried fruit it still cost less than $0.85 cents per jar. (Canadian cents I might add!!)
Sixteen Ways We Preserve Apples: The Recipes
The beauty of apples is that you can squeeze a lot out of each apple. The apples left over from making juice go into making apple butter or sauce. The scraps and cores go into making apple cider vinegar and pectin. Each year the list of what we make from apples is a bit different. This year we made hard apple cider and last year we made apple wine, which we still have plenty of because it takes about a year to mature. Here is a list of recipes that we have tried and like!
Wild crafted wines are really fun to make and to get started you really don’t need fancy equipment. You will need a glass carboy or demijohn(s), wine yeast and some tubing to siphon. For the rest you can usually manage quite well with things you have in the kitchen already.
We dusted off our old juicer to make the apple cider. An apple press would certainly be nice and if you are thinking you might want to make apple cider long term it’s a worthwhile investment to make. You do need some way to press the juice out of the apples to make cider (both hard and soft). It is also good to keep in mind that if you are new to fermented beverages, you can reuse pop bottles to store your finished cider. It can be much easier to notice and release some of the gasses when they build up in plastic. Sometimes when I forget to release the gasses I get a not so subtle reminder in the way of exploding bottles in pantry and it’s no fun having to handle the remaining “bottle bombs”.
Drinking vinegars are a sweet vinegar based syrup that you can mix with bubbly water, wine or alcohol to make a delicious and refreshing drink. They can also be quite medicinal (sans the booze).
We make our apple juice the old fashioned way: chopped apples steeped in boiling water. It’s easy and we can make a lot in one go. I have a steam juicer and it works great at extracting juice. When making large volumes I do find it to be too time consuming but some people would say the opposite. It is worth investigating! This recipe is for the good old fashioned method of making juice (and yes we do pasteurize, just to be safe.)
To make cider you will need some way to crush and squeeze the juice out of the apples. We haven’t got an apple press so for now we use a juicer. Apple cider can be canned or it can be frozen in plastic jugs (leave some head space though!) You can also make apple butter using the strained out pulp. Keep in mind that canning raw apple cider will kill some of the nutritional benefits. It is better to freeze the juice if this is of concern to you.
Buying raw apple cider vinegar with mother can be expensive. Fortunately you can make your own easily and no special equipment or ingredients are required. Once you have made ACV you can make all kinds of other great vinegar products including wine vinegars.
Some jams and jellies need a little pectin to help them set. All you need is water and tart apples (crab apples work great) to make your own chemical and preservative free pectin.
Apple sauce is easy to make and you don’t need to sweeten it with sugar. We chop our apples up and make apple juice first and then make apple sauce once we’ve strained out the juice from the pot. You will need a food mill or a chinois strainer to separate the skin and the core/seeds from the sauce.
Apple butter is made by reducing and adding spices to apple sauce! These instructions show you how to make the sauce but you can skip past that to remaining instructions if you already have the soft apples from making juice.