The apple trees in the garden here are at least 130 years old – the house was built in about 1890 on part of an orchard. There’s a Worcester Pearmain, Cox’s Pippin, Bramley, another cooking apple and an intriguing Golden Delicious that produces fruit with one or more “seams” – ridges from top to bottom.
Every year I’m overwhelmed with windfalls so have a nifty piece of kit to transform them into Juice. It’s a Scandinavian aluminium pot comprising (bottom-to-top): a water tank, a juice reservoir with a funnel through the middle for the steam to pass plus spout for the rubber hose and clip, a basket for the apple pieces and lid. It is supremely simple to use just chop up the apples, extracting the worse bruises and any wildlife. Toss the apple into the basket, switch on the hob and let the water boil to steam them. The juice drips down into the reservoir where it, in turn, is heated by the water – nearly pasteurised, ready for drawing off through the rubber pipe, controlled by the clip.
Reusing plastic water bottles is the ideal storage. Not only are they saved from landfill but the hot apple juice makes them collapse a little, just about vacuum packing the juice. This is where I need a hand: managing wilting bottles of very hot liquid isn’t safe when you can’t see what’s going on! The bottled juice needs to be kept out of the light and I tend to store it in the fridge.
My goal is to use the juice within a year but I have had some several years old and it was still delicious. It is an excellent thirst-quencher when diluted with fizzy water (keep the bottle for next year) or we use it in the homemade granola.
I try to use every apple: dried in the dehydrator for the granola or cakes; frozen as puree; in crumbles, pies and puddings; the Cox’s sautéed in a little butter and sugar until caramelised are the base for many a Tarte Tatin. And I haven’t even started on all the chutneys and other preserves …I’ve even used an apple press and made my own cider.