We are getting reports of people having a good crop of apples in Ireland this year so we thought we'd take a closer look at what we can do with a bumper harvest of apples.
Apples are delicious and they are nutritious! They are a good source of fibre and Vitamin C and are extremely rich in antioxidants, although most of the apples nutrients are found in the skin rather than in its flesh so it's wise to eat them unpeeled.
Apples are a pretty versatile fruit when it comes to cooking with them and using them in the kitchen. They are good at breakfast, lunch, and teatime! There's only so many apples you can eat in a day, so it's good to look at other ways to use and store your crop.
When to Harvest Apples
Once an apple is picked it stops ripening so it is important to try and harvest them at the right time. They are best picked when mature but still firm. Apples tend to ripen from the outside of the tree towards the centre, so start with the outer apples first.
You can test one of the apples from a tree to check on the general ripeness of a crop.
Ripe apples will separate easily from the tree with a twisting motion.
Apples will drop from the tree when they are ripe (they will also fall if they are unhealthy or diseased) so if you see a few healthy apples around the base of the tree it's a sign that's it's time to harvest your crop.
To do a general test of ripeness - cut the apple and make sure the seeds are brown (not white). The flesh of the apple should be white. Taste the apple to make sure that it tastes right - there shouldn't be a tart taste that is usually present in apples that are not quite yet ripe.
Apples should be stored somewhere cool for a longer shelf life. It is very important to sort through the crop to ensure that there are no bad apples in amongst an otherwise healthy crop as damaged apples can cause a harvest to spoil. Apples should ideally be stored in baskets or boxes lined with plastic or foil which will aid in moisture retention whilst letting air circulate at the same time.
Ways to use your Apple Harvest
Apple Juice is a great way of using up apples and it's healthy and refreshing. One of our customers freezes her apple juice in milk cartons and uses it when she needs it. You can use a Steam Juice Extractor or a juicer to easily make apple juice (or any other kind of juice!) or, if you don't have a juice extractor you can try chopping up the apples and putting them in a blender and then 'sieving' out the juice from the pureed / blended apples.
You can also make smoothies from your apples
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is reputed to have many health benefits - I'm not entirely convinced that they are all true, but the general consensus is that a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar a day won't do you any harm - and it might do you some good too!
- 3 (organic) apples - use the whole apple apart from the stem
- 3tsp of raw sugar
- filtered water to cover the apples
- Clean & cut up the apples and place them in a clean sterilised jar.
- Add the sugar with a cup of water and pour it over the apples - you can add more water if needed to cover the apples
- Cover the jar with muslin or cheesecloth and secure it with an elastic band - this lets the liquid breathe
- Place the jar in a warm dark place for 2-3 weeks
- After 2/3 weeks strain and keep the liquid whilst discarding the apples
- Cover the liquid again and leave it in the same dark, warm spot for another 4 - 6 weeks. It helps to check in on your vinegar every few days and give it a stir.
- Begin tasting the vinegar after 4 weeks and start using it once you have achieved a taste that you like.