There is an abundance of fruit this year, thanks to the ideal weather we have had in the UK. Hedgerows are full of blackberries, plums of all sorts are falling to the ground and apple trees are heaving under the weight of their bounty.

It is time therefore to make the most of this proliferation of apples and your orchard is now ready for harvesting. Just make sure that the fruit is ready before removing, and a good sign is if the apple pips are now brown. If they are still white, then the apples need to stay on the tree a little longer. The problem is, most of the apples are ready at the same moment and unless you can adequately store them over the winter in a dry place, with each individual fruit wrapped in newspaper or brown paper then there is only one alternative – to stew the apples and freeze them. It is relatively simple, even for The Real Food Inspector, to stew and freeze apples and it only takes time and effort. Here goes:
1.       Peel your apples using a good quality apple peeler. We use a Victorinox knife available in most kitchen shops.
2.       Slice the apples into relatively small pieces, removing the core and any damaged or diseased sections.
3.       Place the sliced apple into a bowl of cold water, containing two tablespoons of lemon juice. We use a 250ml bottle of organic Sicilian Lemon Juice from M&S, but cheaper versions are available in most supermarkets. Avoid the plastic lemons containing ‘so called’ lemon juice. The lemon juice avoids the fruit turning brown while in preparation.
4.       Once the apples have all been sliced, drain off the ‘lemon juice’ water and rinse in clean cold water and drain.
5.       Place the fruit in a bowl ready for microwaving (non-metal) and sprinkle granulated white sugar generously over the fruit so it is well covered. Do not add an additional water as there is enough liquid in the fruit.

6.       Cover the bowl with cling film and microwave for 6 minutes at a ‘High’ setting (900w microwave).
7.       Carefully remove the cling film to avoid the very hot steam and check that the apple is nicely stewed. Not completely puréed, but still retaining some recognisable slices of apple. You may need another minute or two in the microwave dependent upon the quantity of fruit. (I stewed 6 large apples for 6 minutes).
8.       Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow to cool before spooning into freezer bags and placing in the freezer.     
Once in the freezer, you have a wealth of apple available throughout the coming winter months for filling pies or adding to fruit crumbles, French apple flans, apple snow or chutney. It is also an idea sauce accompaniment to pork. Some folk just like stewed apple with fresh cream!

Remember to take your frozen stewed apple out of the freezer to defrost, several hours before use or the night before.

TIP: If you are using your apple with crumble, don’t try to freeze the whole apple crumble pudding, as when defrosted the whole dish will be very soggy. Alternatively, freeze your crumble mix in a separate freezer bag from your stewed apple for a quick and easy dessert.


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