Grim's Grub: Plenty of options available this apple year
I don't have an apple tree in my own yard - yet - but some years ago I discovered a surprise apple tree in the least likely place - my dad's driveway.
Somehow, this flowering tree had never fruited in the 20 years it must have been there. Never before had any of us seen fruit on it until one day I was walking the driveway at the end of my first summer back from college. There was a tree with big green orbs hanging from it. I looked and behold, a big apple tree just covered in fruit.
When my dad got home I asked him, "When did we get an apple tree in the driveway?"
"We don't have an apple tree in the driveway," he said.
I threw him an underripe apple and asked, "Where did I get this?"
Interestingly enough, my dad had planted apple trees from nurseries in our yard in years past, but they often were damaged in some way by cows, frost or other issues and never matured to fruit. Here, all along, we had a tree in the driveway.
It is possible it only fruited because my dad was cleaning that section of woods that winter, cutting down trees with browning needles and other issues, and that gave the apple tree access to more sun and pollen.
As far as any of us can tell, that tree is the result of my grandmother's food scrap pile. She apparently threw vegetable scraps in that general area all the time, and it seems some apple seeds took root. I say "some" because there are at least three trees with some form of apple on them right behind this tree. (Apples do not produce true to seed, so seeds from an edible apple tree can produce ornamental apples.)
That was almost 10 years ago, and we've enjoyed apples off of that tree for years.
This year has been a bumper year for those apples. Some of them are as big as any commercial variety (save Honey Crisp) and my kitchen has been a disaster area for weeks trying to preserve as many as possible. I've been told by others that their apple trees have fared at least as well as this one. It takes a little work to preserve a bumper crop of apples, but there are many options.
Might I recommend slicing your apples to about a 1/4 inch and dehydrating as apple chips? Dip them in lemon water first and possibly dredge in cinnamon. Combine the resulting chips with blueberries dehydrated like raisins (use the recipe I gave for craisins in September), nuts and puffed wild rice for a unique trail mix. I will give you my current rice puffing method. I am working on better options, but this works for now.
(Think apple pie pizza)
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 4-7 apples (depending on the size of your apples)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a food processor, cut together pastry ingredients starting with flour, sugar, salt and butter for five seconds. Alternate sprinkling ice water over the mixture and processing until the pastry begins to come together. You should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Remove the pastry and work into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled.
Peel, halve and core apples and then slice them crosswise ¼-inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and broken pieces. About half of the slices should be chopped. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pastry to a 12- by 14-inch rectangle and transfer it to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within an inch of the edge.
Drizzle honey over the chopped apples. Arrange sliced apples on top in circles or overlapping rows. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over apples and dot with remaining butter. Fold the pastry edge over the apples to create a 1-inch border. Bake for 1 hour or until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender.
Puffed Maple Wild Rice
- Wild rice
- Water (enough to just cover rice)
- Real maple syrup (1 tablespoon per every cup of water, or more)
Put wild rice in a bowl and cover with water. Stir in maple syrup and allow this to sit 1 hour or until the ends of the wild rice begin to split and show white ends. Remove from water and allow the outsides of the kernels to dry out.
On a microwaveable dish, spread the dried, infused kernels. Microwave these using a defrost setting. Start with 6 minutes and watch carefully. These will pop sort of like popcorn, though they will only puff a little. Most of the kernels will look slightly lighter than when they first went in by the time they are done.
When popping has stopped or slowed significantly, open the door and carefully check moisture (they will be hot if they are wet). If you smelled smoke at all, do not continue to microwave. If there is moisture, you probably can safely repeat the defrost setting.
Local Trail Mix
- 1 cup apple chips (slice apples ¼-inch thick and dehydrate)
- 1 cup blueberry raisins or craisins (recipe listed in September)
- 1 cup Puffed Wild Rice (see accompanying recipe)
- 1 cup Hazelnuts
Mix all ingredients.