I was out this week with Not Far From the Tree, a Toronto-based organization that sends volunteers to the homes of people who need help harvesting the fruit from their trees. One third of the bounty goes to the homeowner, a third to a local food bank and a third to those who pick the fruits.
It’s a fun way to get to know people in your neighbourhood, and it’s a way of reducing food waste, helping feed your community and stocking up on unsprayed fruits with zero carbon footprint.
We hit the jackpot today, picking almost 300 lb of apples from one tree. And I lugged home around 40 lb–to the disgust of my now-aching back.
We’re not sure what kind of apples we picked–if you have any idea, answers in the comments section, please! They were mostly red, quite sweet and relatively soft to the bite.
First thing I made when I got home was applesauce. For extra tanginess, I added lemon (juice and zest) and grated fresh ginger. It would have been tasty to mix in tart Cortlands or McIntoshes too, but I couldn’t justify going out and buying more apples! I sprinkled in some cinnamon and coconut sugar (maple syrup or brown sugar would also be delicious sweeteners). The trick with applesauce is to taste as you go and adapt your basic recipe to balance out the flavours of each unique batch of apples.
I used food writer Marion Kane’s method. She bakes apple pieces at 400 F in an oven dish with a tight-fitting lid. Rather than add water and dilute their flavour, she lets them cook in their own sweet juices.
Marion also turned me onto mixing chocolate chips into warm applesauce and letting it melt. Wow. Find her recipe here.
Next I made apple syrup. I like having natural sweeteners, such as honey and maple syrup, to hand, so I thought this would mix things up. This intensely sweet and flavourful reduction would be delicious on oatmeal, crepes, waffles or yoghurt and fruit.
I followed Merida Anderson’s recipe from Vegan Secret Supper.
I threw in a cinnamon stick too, for spiciness. You could add powdered or grated ginger too.
Here’s the basic recipe:
From Vegan Secret Supper, by Merida Anderson
(Makes 1 cup/250 mL)
3 cups (750 mL) unfiltered apple juice (*You can juice your own apples or buy pressed apple juice at the market or grocery store.)
In a pot on medium-high heat, bring juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, until juice has reduced down to 1 cup (250 mL). Syrup should coat the back of a spoon and drip slowly. Remove from heat and cool. This will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.