Natures bounty

Apples all year – zero waste

This is the time of year that those of us who are natural forager, gatherer personalities absolutely love. Our souls feel soothed by the harvesting, chopping, and preparing fabulous delicacies for the winter ahead. Even now as I write this I have a little smile on my face as I hear the gentle ‘pop’ of the jar lids as they seal the raspberry and aniseed jelly goodness away until the opening ‘pop’ at some point on a cold frosty morning, to be enjoyed with homemade sourdough bread.

The apples are from the trees in my garden, a big old tree planted from a pip of a favourite apple by my neighbour. Also some new cordons planted by me, including a red fleshed variety that I love to use in baking, its pinky flesh lifts a sponge cake or a tarte tatin to another level (another jar just poppedJ ). Its very difficult for me to say no to any food gifts, so when a friend asks if I would like some apples from her tree I greedily accept. She is thrilled to bring produce to me (it’s often the other way around), so I am happy that she is happy.

For many years now I have operated on a zero waste when it comes to preserving apples. Those we don’t eat or store whole are prepared using this fantastic little gadget, a gift from my cousin in France. You can buy them in the UK now {Lakeland}. This separates the flesh from the core and skin.

Apple skins

They do say that apples skins are packed with goodness, so it seems such a waste to discard them. In my zero waste philosophy, the skins are promptly hung on the aga rail to dry. When dry the skins are ground to a powder to be used as cake flavouring, or a boost to sauces or salad dressings.

Apple flesh

The main flesh of the apples are popped straightaway into lemon juice (or you can use citric acid in water)to prevent discolouration. I use the apple flesh in a variety of ways:

  • Freeze the slices for pudding, cakes and {bircher muesli}
  • Dry the slices for healthy snacking
  • Gently simmer the apple slices, usually without sugar. It can be added later if needed (or honey). Some apples will keep neatly in slices, others make an apple puree. Either way, it is delicious with yoghurt.

Apple jelly

Since operating zero waste, I find it hard to use anything but the cores and some discarded flesh for making jelly. I do use crab apples if I have been foraging, they make excellent jelly too. After preparing the apples as above, the cores are immediately popped in a pan ready to make jelly. The extra concentration of pips helps set the jelly so you can add other fruit that would normally struggle to set as a jelly, like the raspberries in the aforementioned popping jars. The cores are boiled up (together with any flavourings or other fruit) with a bit of water (just covering). I pop the pan in the simmering oven for a few hours or overnight. Then the cooked fruit is poured into a jelly bag and left, overnight again is good. The strained liquid is then used for making your jelly (there are many recipes on line, this is a nice one from {river cottage}.  I love experimenting with different flavours, here are some ideas you may like to try with your strained liquid.

  • Adding chilllis (dried or fresh), and taking the jelly off the boil before it reaches hard set to make a chilli sauce. I have also added other flavours for instance lemon grass and coriander seeds and ginger for a kind of thai sauce. A big favourite was our very own {Spirit of Yorkshire} {Filey Bay} whisky for a whisky chilli sauce. So delicious.
  • You could try leaving the strained fruit liquid for a few days. It starts to ferment and then you get a fantastic cider type flavour to your jellys or chilli sauce.
  • I like strong flavours with the apples, star anise, aniseed, mint are all good. Cinnamon is a traditional partner to apples, but Mr T isn’t a fan, so I don’t bother with that.
  • Other fruit that I add to apple jelly, foraged rosehips, elderberries and brambles. All have {health benefits}.

At the end

To complete, the zero waste, the left over pulp from the jelly making is given to the hens. They too, appreciate a good apple jelly (remember there is no sugar at this stage). Don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate your hard work, feast your eyes on the full store cupboard, inhale those beautiful aromas and anticipate the tastes to come. Listen to your popping jars. Nature is indeed bountiful and generous.


Categories: Wellbeing

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