Monday, August 31, 2009

Crabapple Disaster

Our new interest in frugal living, has led us to view our surroundings a little differently. We hate to see things go to waste. That's not to say, we've become the most frugal people in the country, far from it, but we're definitely reusing more, and buying less than we were a year ago.

So, when we noticed a friend's crabapple tree loaded with fruit, that was not being used, we inquired about it. When it turned out, they had lost interest in using crabapples, and had let the entire tree's worth of fruit fall, unused, for several years, we asked if we could pick some of the sour little guys. I've never cooked with crabapples before. In fact, my only memory of ever tasting one, is as a child lured in by their cuteness. Needless to say, I only tasted one.

Still, I've heard of crabapple jelly, and I was pretty confident the Internet would be able to provide quite a few more recipes for using the tiny fruit. Best of all, my husband was willing to do the picking. By late Sunday afternoon, I had a sink full of crabapples, and a handful of recipes.

My mother advised me to cook the apples on the stove, cores and all, and then run them through a food mill (then she reminded me that she had given me one of her food mills, for making apple sauce), before turning them into jam or jelly. That sounded a lot simpler than cutting the little cores out, so I figured that would be my method. However, when I filled the sink with water, to wash the apples, I realized many of them contained worms - of course, no one would spray a tree, they weren't going to pick from.

While I appreciated the lack of pesticide on the apples, I wasn't sure I fancied cooking up the worms with the apples (I'm sure my mother would have, and now I'm looking with suspicion at the homemade apple sauce she brought on her last visit). I decided I would have to cut the apples up, to be sure, I didn't include any worms in the batch.

On a bright note, the children got quite a thrill out of watching the little creatures squirm out of the apples, as the sink filled with water. However, after a few minutes of watching them struggle to stay on the surface, I found myself obligated to ferry them outside, rather than watch them drown (much to the children's relief). We are definitely not country folk.

At any rate, since I was cutting the fruit anyway, I decided to try out the recipe for crabapple pie that I had found, before trying the jam or jelly. The pie recipe, called for six cups of quartered, crab apples, with the cores cut out. After an hour I had two cups, and was ready to quit. Luckily, I had also found several copies of a recipe for crabapple cake, that only needed two cups of the chopped up apple.

The recipe called for:

  • 2 cups of chopped crabapple

  • 1 cup of sugar

  • 1/2 cup of shortening

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 Tbs. mil

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 2 tsp. salt

  • 2 cups of flour

Mix all the ingredients together, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, in your favorite cake pan. I chose a large muffin tin.

If you have a sharp eye, you might have noticed the large amount of salt. I noticed it too, but I had three recipes from different sites, all calling for the same amount. So, I thought maybe it had something to do with the sourness of the crabapples. It didn't. I'm pretty sure it's a mistake, and it should read 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

I will be spending some time today tracking down the recipe sites, to leave a comment about the salt. In the meantime though, the little bits of crabapple, baked up beautifully. They actually taste good enough in the salty muffins, that I'm going to be compelled to finish cutting up the rest of apples. I'm pretty sure there's a batch of jelly in my future...worms not included.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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