Foraged Crab and Windfall Apple Sauce
In the heart of British culinary tradition, where recipes tell tales of innovation and preservation, apple sauce stands as a timeless testament to both the resourcefulness of the past and the enduring charm of simplicity. This humble condiment, crafted from an array of apples-often windfall and foraged gems, including the vibrant crab apple - holds a cherished place at the table. The recipe for this versatile sauce captures not only the essence of British countryside harvests but also the spirit of adaptation and creativity.
As we journey through the annals of British kitchens, we shall uncover the history of apple sauce: from its medieval roots as a preservation method, through its role in traditional pies, to its honoured place alongside roast meats. We'll also reveal the secret of a delicious foraged apple sauce, where the tartness of crab apples melds with the sweetness of other varieties, adding complexity and creating a a delicious apple sauce that complements all kinds of dishes.
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Apple Sauce and its Roots
Medieval Roots: Apple sauce has a deep and enduring history in the UK. Its origins can be traced back to medieval Britain, where it served not only as a delightful condiment but also as a clever means of preserving apples. During this time, apple sauce was prepared using a variety of spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg, which added depth and flavour to the sauce. The simplicity of apple sauce made it a staple in many households, and its versatility was appreciated by cooks of the era.
Preservation and Pies: As the centuries passed, apple sauce became a crucial method for preserving apples for use during the colder months. It was a practical way to extend the shelf life of apples and ensure that households had a source of fruit throughout the winter. During this period, apple sauce found its way into the filling of traditional British pies, including the beloved apple pie and mincemeat pie. This dual role of preservation and culinary enjoyment solidified apple sauce as a fundamental element of British cuisine.
Serving with Roasts: One of the most enduring traditions associated with apple sauce in the UK is its pairing with roast meats, particularly pork. The practice of serving apple sauce with roasts dates back to at least the 18th century and continues to be a beloved tradition today. The tangy and slightly sweet flavour of apple sauce complements the rich and savoury nature of roasted meats, creating a perfect balance of tastes. Whether it's a Sunday roast or a festive holiday dinner, apple sauce remains a cherished accompaniment on British dining tables.
As time has passed, apple sauce recipes have evolved to include various spices, sweeteners, and even additional ingredients like raisins or cloves. This versatility has allowed apple sauce to adapt to changing tastes and preferences. In modern times, it's not only enjoyed with roasts but also used as a condiment for sausages and as a topping for desserts like ice cream.
Moreover, apple sauce has garnered attention for its health benefits. It is fat-free, cholesterol-free, and a source of dietary fibre, making it a healthier alternative to other condiments and sweeteners. This health-conscious approach has further propelled the popularity of apple sauce in the UK, cementing its status as a timeless and nutritious addition to British cuisine.
In summary, apple sauce has a rich and diverse history in the United Kingdom, from its medieval beginnings as a preservation method to its modern role as a versatile condiment and accompaniment in British cooking. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its delightful taste and adaptability, making it an integral part of British culinary culture.
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Foraged Crab Apple Sauce with Mixed Windfall Apples Recipe
Makes about four 250ml jars of the apple sauce
1 kg of mixed windfall apples (excluding crab apples)
400g of crab apples
150ml of water
100g of sugar (go for unrefined, granulated)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Tiny pinch of sea salt
Preparing the Crab Apples:
Rinse and Inspect the Crab Apples:
Begin by thoroughly rinsing the crab apples under cold water. Inspect them for any stems, leaves, or damaged parts. Remove any you find.
Quarter the Crab Apples:
With a sharp knife, quarter the crab apples without removing their skins or cores. The skins will contribute a delightful pinkish hue and a burst of tartness to the sauce.
Cooking the Apples:
Combine the Mixed Apples and Crab Apples:
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, combine the quartered mixed apples and crab apples with 150ml of water. The water helps prevent sticking and promotes even cooking.
Simmer the Apples:
Place the pot over medium-low heat, cover it with a lid, and allow the apples to simmer for about 20-30 mins, or until they become soft and easily mashable. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Creating the Sauce:
Mash the Apples:
Once the apples are soft, use a potato masher or a fork to mash them into a chunky consistency. If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a blender and pulse until smooth.
Seasoning the Sauce:
Stir in 100g of sugar and the pinch fof salt, plus 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Adjust the sugar to your taste preference; you can add more if you like it sweeter.
Add 1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves for a warm, spiced flavour.
If the sauce is too tart, you can balance it with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Adjust the lemon juice to your desired level of tartness.
Simmer and Thicken:
Return the pot to the stove and simmer the sauce over low heat, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 mins. This allows the flavours to meld, and the sauce to thicken slightly.
Taste and Adjust:
Taste the apple sauce and adjust the sweetness or spice levels to your liking. You can add more sugar, cinnamon, or other spices as needed.
If you prefer a smoother sauce without apple skins or any remaining solids, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a clean bowl.
Cool and Store:
Allow the apple sauce to cool to room temperature before transferring it to airtight containers or jars. Refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for longer storage (see below).
Serve your homemade foraged crab apple sauce as a delightful accompaniment to pork dishes, pancakes, yogurt, or enjoy it simply by the spoonful. It's a versatile and flavourful treat made from the bounty of nature.
Can you use any Apples in Apple Sauce?
Yes, you can use a variety of apple varieties to make apple sauce, and the choice of apples will significantly impact the flavour and texture of the sauce. Sweeter apple varieties like Gala, Cox's Orange Pippin, or Egremont Russet will yield a sweeter sauce, while tart apples like Bramley, the classic choice for apple sauce, will result in a tangier sauce.
Combining different apple varieties, including foraged crab apples, can create a balanced and complex flavour profile in your sauce. It's a versatile dish that can be tailored to your taste preferences, whether you prefer a sweet, tart, or a blend of flavours in your apple sauce.
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Making Homemade Apple Sauce last longer
If you always need a stash or have a glut of apples to make into sauce there are few ways to preserve your apple sauce for longer than a week. Here's a few ideas:
Preserving Apple Sauce
When it comes to extending the shelf life of homemade apple sauce, there are a few approaches that can be taken.
Bottling / Kilner Jars: Bottling or preserving the apple sauce in jars is route 1. It involves sealing the sauce in sterilised jars or bottles. These can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months, ensuring you have a ready supply of sauce throughout the year.
Freezing: Freezing is a straightforward way to preserve apple sauce. After allowing it to cool, transfer it to airtight, freezer-safe containers or plastic freezer bags. Label and date them before storing in the freezer. This method can keep your apple sauce in good condition for up to a year.
Dehydrating: Dehydrating apple sauce can also be an option. You can use a dehydrator or the oven to transform it into fruit leather or flakes and storing it in an airtight container can make it last for several months.
Refrigeration: If you plan to use your apple sauce within a few weeks, simply store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container to maintain freshness.
Each method has its advantages, allowing you to enjoy the delightful flavour of your homemade apple sauce for an extended period. Choose the one that suits your preferences and needs best.
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Our exploration of apple sauce reveals not only its storied history but also the extraordinary complexity of flavours that arise when combining different apple varieties, including the humble crab apple. As we journeyed through time, we uncovered the roots of apple sauce as a preservation method and its role in cherished pies and roast dinners.
However, it is in the recipe itself that we discover the true magic. The medley of mixed foraged apples, each with its unique sweetness and tartness, comes together in a symphony of tastes that elevates this simple condiment to something truly extraordinary. The inclusion of crab apples, with their tart and astringent notes, adds a delightful contrast that enhances the overall depth and complexity of the sauce. It's a culinary alchemy that transforms apples into a versatile and nuanced accompaniment.
Whether enjoyed alongside a succulent roast or as a delightful topping for dessert, or on your porridge. This foraged apple sauce, born from the blending of diverse apple flavours, emerges as an irresistible, flavour-packed delight that captures the essence of pure culinary pleasure.
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