My mama (aka MotherHen) is not only a wonderful mother, she is also my dear friend. She taught me everything from how to sew, ride a horse, cook and bake and garden to the importance of a made bed and how to vaccum. Not only has she raised five children and dealt with horses, chicken, ducks, cats, and dogs in her lifetime but she is also a Master Gardener and one of the smartest people I know. She is here today to share one way to preserve the apple harvest as well as how to make a yummy dessert.
I love this time of year. Summer begins to give way to Autumn as the evenings start getting cooler, the days a little shorter, and the fall crops start coming in. One of my favorite late-summer garden events is when my apples start to turn a reddish-yellow and the heady aroma of ripening fruit hangs in the air. I only have three apple trees, two of which are of bearing maturity, but that still seems to keep me supplied with enough fruit to make me wonder what on earth to do with it all. My Centennial apple tree was loaded this year.
*A Master Gardener Note:
Apple trees tend to be alternate bearers, meaning that they will bear a heavy crop one year while the next year will result in a lighter or even no crop. This tree is from a dwarfing root stock so it is a small tree. Allowing it to bear the full crop would have resulted in broken branches. To prevent this we removed about 50 percent of the apples once they reached about marble size. It isn’t really as tedious as it sounds. We picked some of them, but my hubby found that giving the tree a good shake worked pretty well. Nevertheless, the apples were still abundant!
After eating oodles of them and sharing them with kids and grandkids, it was time to pick them so the wasps wouldn’t beat us to the harvest. These apples are smaller in size, but are definitely not a sour crabapple. They have a wonderful sweet-tart flavor with a crisp and juicy texture. Flavor-wise, I would put them up against just about any full-size apple. However, they do not store well so they must be eaten or preserved shortly after picking. One of the ways I preserve my apples is by freezing them. Not much can compare to the ease of tossing a bag of apples in a baking dish, sprinkling on a crumble topping, and within a short amount of time, spooning a heavenly-scented apple crisp onto a dessert plate in the middle of a cold winter.
Most types of apples will work for freezing. Since these apples are smaller, peeling them would take an eternity so I leave the skins on. I like the extra flavor and texture that the skins give. Larger apples work better for peeling and coring–prepare them according to your likes. Here I just sliced them right off the core into about one-half inch thicknesses.
For every 5 cups of sliced apples, prepare in a separate bowl:
Toss apples with sugar mixture until well coated.
*Note: If the variety of apples you are using is very tart, you may want to increase the sugar by a tablespoon or two. I have never cared much for apple pie because it is so insanely sweet. I think apple desserts should taste like apples, not candy. I like some of the tartness to come though so be warned to adjust the sugar according to your preferences.
Using quart-size freezer bags, measure about 5 cups of fruit into each bag. Press out most of the air and zip shut. If some of the flour mixture is left in the bottom of the bowl, be sure it gets in the bag. This is what thickens the apples when baking. Place bags in the freezer–they will keep for about a year (assuming you haven’t used them all up by then).
Mix all dry ingredients. In a small dish melt 1/4 cup butter. Pour melted butter over dry ingredients and mix until mixture is crumbly. Remove apples from microwave and sprinkle crumble topping over them. Return to microwave for about 7 minutes until apples are tender.
Note: You may need to adjust your cooking times according to the strength of your microwave.
Let cool for a few minutes, but it is best served warm. If you have trouble with glucose metabolism like I do or just want to keep it a little healthier, top with some Greek-style yogurt mixed with a little honey or stevia. Or just go for it and heap on some whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!