Whether you grow your apples in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden, part of enjoying your own food is understanding how to preserve the harvest for later use. If you learn how to preserve the various fruits and vegetables that you grow, you will have the tools you need to eat food from your own garden all year round. Here are some ideas for how to preserve your apple harvest this year:
Storing Your Apple Harvest Over the Winter Months
Many apple varieties can be stored for several months and eaten over the winter months. Choose fruits which are unblemished and whole, which show no signs of bruising, rot or disease. Apples stored simply should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place. They should not be touching each other, as if they are, one rotten apple can spoil the whole lot. You can place apples on trays or racks, and wrapping each fruit in newspaper or other scrap paper can also help. Check over stored fruit regularly and get rid of any that have begun to rot right away.
Freeze Your Apple Harvest
Another way to store apples for longer is to core and slice them and freeze them for later use in cooking. You can cook your apples down into sauce or stewed apples before freezing, or freeze slices (dipped in lemon juice to stop browning if you wish) to layer into pies or to use in other recipes.
Make Apple Jam or Apple Butter
Another way to preserve apples – great if you do not have a lot of space in your freezer – is to turn your hand to making some apple jams, or apple butter. There are plenty of different recipes to choose from, and when placed into sterilised jars and kept in a cool place, will keep for a long time. Add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to add interest to your apple preserves.
Make Savoury Preserves Such as Apple Chutney
You can also use apples to make savoury preserves such as apple chutney which can be wonderful when eaten with crackers and cheese, spread in a sandwich, or used as an accompaniment to curries or other spicy dishes. Again, there are plenty of different apple chutney recipes to choose from, and you can make the concoction as sweet or as spicy as you wish to suit your own tastes and those of your family and friends.
Dry Your Apple Harvest
Another way to make your apples last for longer is to dry them. Dried fruit such as dried apples can be used in muesli or other breakfast cereals, or simply eaten as a healthy snack. In the UK, it is best to dry apple rings or thin apple slices in your oven, as they will not tend to air dry very quickly or effectively in our relatively humid climate. Place thin apple slices on a baking tray on greaseproof paper and place them in your oven, on a low temperature, until they are dry and crisp.
How do you preserve your apple harvest or your other fruits? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.