The apples are still raining down on me .... along with the rain!!
Shaking the branches of the trees to bring a few more down. while I am there to pick them up straight away, brings down a deluge of big fat blobs of leaf caught rainwater ... and of course because you're looking up when you do this the blobs go all down your face, neck and shirt and it makes for a soggy harvesting ten minutes or so.
But it's worth it :-)
Back in the kitchen after giving the newly acquired harvest of apples a quick wash I spring into action. I finally succumbed after six years of doing this with a peeler, corer and knife and bought myself one of these nifty little peeler/corer/slicer gadgets, it speeds the whole process up considerably and cost me only £14.95 so money well spent, even if I do have to grit my teeth and store yet another gadget in the kitchen cupboard when I've finished.
The only thing I don't like about it .... the suction pad sucks!!
Well it doesn't ... at all, it just doesn't stick to the worktop, and I've tried various things to stick it to, so it's not just our oiled teak worktop that's the problem. I've tried a scrubbed wooden chopping board, a plastic board and even the oilcloth tablecloth. The only thing I can't try it on is a glass chopping thingy. I hate them, they ruin your knives so I don't allow them in the house, and grit my teeth when I have to use them in holiday homes etc. Lovely Hubby said he is going to find me a suitable clamp to fix it to the edge of the worktop in time for next years harvesting .... or I might just go and have a rummage in the Man Shed instead of waiting ;-)
Anyway I persevere and hold it down with one hand and eventually the apples get peeled/cored/chopped and dropped into cold salted water in the sink.
I've tried lemon juice in the water and yes, that works fine too, to stop the apples going brown while you prepare the big batch, but salt works just as well and is considerably cheaper, and I always have a tub of it next to the sink. So salt water is my soak of choice. Just make sure you give the apples a couple of rinses before they go into the pan for cooking!!
The peelings and cores go to the chickens, but they're getting a bit fed up of apple now .... well they do have the majority of apple trees in and around Chicken World, so they get first nabs at the windfalls anyway. The next couple of bowlfuls went to the compost bin instead, I could tell it was almost more grateful than the birds ;-)
Then they were cooked in a big pan on the top of the Aga in just a smidge of water with a couple of spoonfuls of added sugar, until the majority of the apples were mush and only a few larger bits remained (this is how we like it and why I use a mix of eating and cooking apples), the apples were swiftly decanted into hot jars straight from the warming oven of the Aga.
Of course for health reasons I now try not to use much sugar in my recipes, and as sugar is usually the main preservative in this sort of preserving I decided this couldn't be just bottled in my usual way. I also need this batch to be kept for a while as we are still eating our way through some bottled the year before last!!
So I did reprocess everything in my big jam pan to get a good vacuum. Just 30 minutes of neatly steaming up the kitchen with each panful and everything was ready.
All labelled up and ready to be stored ..... somewhere, I'm not sure where yet, I'm quickly running out of storage space!
Then I went out to check for eggs in Chicken World .....
.... and found one egg and five more apples .... argghh .... off we go again.