29 September 2013

A Glut of Feral Apples

Due to caribougrrl's inability to walk past an apple tree without picking some, things have gotten out of hand.  In an attempt to clear the dining table to accommodate some dinner guests tomorrow, Fefe Noir spent some time putting them up.  She thinks this will also reduce the number of little apples the cats liberate and re-purpose as toys.

A small portion of the feral apples littering the house, and the borrowed cute little ancient British apple corer.

Dried Apple Rings

Keep apples handy by washing them in a bowl near your
work area.  Once cored and sliced, drop immediately into
lemon water.

feral apples*, **
juice of one lemon

*the number or weight of apples you need depends on how much room you can make in your oven
** you could use cultivated apples if that's what you can get

Start by digging all your wire cooling racks out of your cupboards and finding baking sheets they can sit on steadily (the little legs are not precariously balanced on rims; the legs either sit properly on the baking sheet or fully overhang it).  Once you've got racks and trays matched up, sort out how many will fit in your oven.

Preheat oven to 150F.

Fill a mixing bowl 3/4 full of water and add the lemon juice.

Make a guess at how many apples it will take to fill the space on your wire racks with round slices.  Wash that many.

Dry the apples one at a time.  Using an apple-corer, core the apples.  If you don't have an apple corer, beg borrow or buy one.  Since feral apples are tiny, Fefe borrowed her mother's ancient British apple-corer which is narrower than the ones generally available for sale in North America these days.

Slice the apples fairly thinly (but most importantly, slice them fairly evenly) into rings.  Drop the rings in the water and keep coring and slicing.  Reserve the cores and uneven ends and apples with bad spots (cut the bad spots out for your compost bin, put the rest of the apple aside with the cores) for making apple jelly (see below).

When you think you have enough, lay them out in a single layer on the wire racks.  If you didn't slice enough, do a few more.  If you sliced too many, put the extra aside with the cores for apple jelly.

Lay out in a single layer on the wire rack.
Dehydrate in oven for 2.5 to 4.5 hours.  Check them once in a while.  If you sliced them thickly, they will take a long time.  If you sliced them very very thinly, you will get apple chips.  Take them out when they are dry and shrunken and the consistency you were aiming for (you will have to bite into one to check).  If your apples are very juicy, they will take longer than if they are dry-ish.

If you are reluctant to give up oven space, or you oven is too small, there is good news:  you can dehydrate apples in your car!  (Provided you live in a sunnier place than Newfoundland)

Feral Apple Jelly

Following Marguerite Patten's 500 Recipes: Jams Pickles Chutneys (yikes!  see if you can borrow it from your local library or find it at a yard sale)

Use the scraps from your dried apple project and top  up
with additional apples as needed for the jelly.

feral apples*, including scraps from apple rings (see above)

*or crabapples, or cultivated apples

Using as many apples as you want to or need to (but a minimum of 2 lbs).  Wash the apples if they've been exposed to pesticides or road side dust or if you will feel better having washed them.  Cut the big ones in half or quarters, leave the tiny ones whole.  

Put the apples into a large saucepan.  Add 1 cup of water per pound of fruit.  Simmer the apples until they are pulpy.  Watch them fairly closely and stir once in a while so you don't burn them.  Fefe's took about an hour but that can change depending on the total volume in the pot, how vigorous a simmer you have, the variety of apple, the growing conditions this year, etc.  So watch them.  So while you are waiting, do things that keep you close to the kitchen... for one thing, set up your jelly bag or muslin or other drip system.

Fefe Noir stole caribougrrl's beside table and
turned it over to set up the cheese cloth for
the jelly drip.
To strain the jelly, Fefe used a double layer of cheesecloth suspended from an upturned side table (see photo) and placed a large mixing bowl underneath.  Once the cheesecloth is securely tied, and the apples are fully cooked, transfer the stewed apple and all the liquid into the strainer by adding one ladle-full at a time. Leave overnight to strain.

Do not squeeze the cheesecloth.  You will be tempted to, because there will be a slightly disappointing amount of precious liquid in the bowl in the morning but do. not. squeeze.  This is jelly, not jam.  Sure, it will only make a little bit, but that's okay because if you have too much you will get tired of it anyway.

Use the liquid for the jelly and run the pulp through a food mill or push it through a sieve to remove skin, seed, stems, etc.  There's a lot of goodness still left in that pulp, so if you won't be needing it immediately (for baked good or desserts, ketchup or other sauce), it can be frozen for a short period until ready for use.  

Measure the liquid and put it in a heavy bottomed saucepan.  Add 1/2 lb sugar for each cup of liquid. Stir to combine and heat to dissolve.  Bring to a rapid boil and watch constantly, boiling until set.  There is a lot of pectin in apple jelly so it will set quickly, keep a cold plate handy for checking the set frequently.  Fefe's took about 10 minutes.  She also suggests that you don't start unloading the dishwasher because if you're distracted, your jelly might boil over or burn and the smoke detector may go off upsetting the dogs and creating mayhem as apple jelly shellac adheres to the surface of your stove.  Hypothetically, that is.

Pour into sterilized jars leaving some air space at the top.  If you are planning to store the jelly, heat process appropriate for your altitude and take the usual precaution of refrigerating any unsealed jars and using quickly.  We're practically at sea level and Fefe Noir processed ours for 10 minutes.


The Madonna cat is obsessed with the feral apples.   As it turns out, they make great cat toys (so long as you don't mind apples rotting under your sideboard...).

A Glut of Feral Apples on Punk Domestics


  1. Earl loves apples...and sweet potatoes...and walnuts...he tends to chew them all up into tiny pieces and leave them where you are going to step on them (especially the walnuts) in your bare feet ;). Excellent post as Tassie is weighed down with apples and a perfect tutorial for me as I have never tried making jelly :)

    1. Our dogs our obsessed with sweet potatoes and pumpkin....walnuts they only see at Christmas and are carefully guarded! If you try the jelly let us know how it goes.

  2. Apple jelly would be so nice to have! You are giving me ideas.

    1. Thanks,,,,I don't know what we will do when the apples dry up!

  3. I love this! I've even used the table (upside down exactly as shown!) but without muslin, using doubled over net curtains instead. Now to get that jelly made...

  4. I love this! I've even used the table (upside down exactly as shown!) but without muslin, using doubled over net curtains instead. Now to get that jelly made...


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