Do you find piles of ripe and unripe fruits on the ground around your apple tree and wonder what to do with them? Though they might be small, sour and just not as appealing to bite into, they can be put into plenty of other uses besides eating fresh. If you’re short on ideas on how to use these windfall apples, this post will guide you.
Stages Of Fallen Apple
Ways in which you can use the fallen apples will depend on the stage they are in. One natural phenomena that causes early fruit drop is ‘June drop’. Fruit drop from late May to June, sometimes even early July is nature’s way of getting rid of the extra fruit burden so the tree can produce the largest and healthiest fruits. It also prevents the tree’s limbs from breaking under the burden of fruits. This reduction of fruit in early summers will give you smaller sized unripe fruits on the ground.
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Following the ‘June drop’, heavy winds, rainfall, pests and diseases will continue dropping fruit in different ripening stages throughout the summer and fall. Unless they are rotten, bitten, or infested, there’s no reason to leave them to decompose on the soil, unless you want to share your harvest with the wildlife.
8 Practical Ways To Use Windfall Apples
Once you have a few bushels of windfall apples, you can put them to use. Depending on whether they’re ripe or unripe, here’s a list of ways in which you can use them:
How To Use Unripe Apples
These small, hard, sour apples aren’t the best for eating fresh. Here are some practical tips on using them.
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For Making Pectin
Unripe apples are the best candidates for making pectin, a thickening agent that assists the preparation of jams and jellies. Unripe apples, in fact, contain more pectin than ripe apples. Pectin is a naturally-occuring compound in apples that reduces in concentration as the fruit ripens.
To make pectin, cut 3 pounds of unripe apples and add them to a pot with 4 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring the mixture to boil and let it cook until water reduces to half. Strain the mixture with a cheesecloth, boil the juice a second time, transfer to jars and refrigerate it.
For Making Jam
If you don’t want to go to the extra step of making pectin, adding some unripe apples directly to jams and jellies will also do the trick. Not only will they help the jam set, they’ll also add a hint of acidity to the flavor, which is just what elevates your homemade jam or jelly recipe.
However, with the addition of raw apples, the consistency of your jam won’t be clear, which is just something you want to keep in mind before using this trick. Also, don’t add too many raw apples to the jam or the acidity will be too strong.
Unripe apples can be too hard to chew, but you can enjoy it more by poaching. Poaching softens the texture and enhances the flavors. Bring poaching liquid (water, juice or wine) to a boil in a pot. Add sliced and cored unripe apples to the boiling liquid and cook them for about half an hour. Consume the poached apples right away or refrigerate them for later.
Frying is just another trick to make unripe apples softer and enhance the flavors in the process. Core and slice the apples and add them to a frying pan with some butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Let the mixture cook until tender and then turn the heat up a bit to thicken the sauce. Serve it fresh and enjoy.
Another great way of turning unripe windfall apples into something yummy is to turn them into a strong, flavorful apple chutney! Sizzle a teaspoon each of cumin and fennel seeds in some oil in a pot. Add 1 thinly sliced onion and cook it until it turns golden. Add cayenne pepper and cook for half a minute. Add 1 pound of cored and diced apples, 1 peeled and sliced fresh ginger, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, ½ cup sugar, salt and pepper and cook until the sugar caramelizes and the apples thicken.
How To Use Ripe Apples
Unless you want to eat them fresh, there are tons of different ways to use ripe, or almost ripe, apples that fall off the tree. Here are some suggestions:
Apple pie is one of the favorite recipes in an American household, and the good thing is that it uses at least up to at least a bunch of apples at a time. You can also try apple crumble, turnovers or several different dessert recipes that are available on the internet.
Homemade fruit leather can satisfy your and your kid’s sweet cravings without the side effects. Cook peeled, cored and cubed apples in boiling water, sugar and cinnamon until soft and blend the mixture. Pour out the mixture on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet and thin the layer using a spatula. Bake it for 2 to 3 hours until it sets. Cut it into strips, roll up the strips and store in an airtight jar.
A little sour and a little sweet, homemade apple juice is an excellent way of consuming more antioxidants in your diet. Cook three cups of water and 3 lbs ripe apples (no need to peel or core them). Mash the apples occasionally while the mixture continues to boil. Strain the mixture using a jelly bag and sweeten it with granulated sugar to taste. Cool it and freeze it.
Besides these, there are plenty of other ways to use fallen apples. You’ll find recipes for making homemade apple cider, apple sauce, apple syrup and lots more.