We have two crabapple trees in the orchard and this year they are festooned. The first to ripen has long, reddy orange fruits which are perfectly edible raw – I think they have a tang of lychees – but which cook up beautifully. They generally crop well and every year brings the crabapple challenge. Lyra and I have, between us, mustered three uses so far and I have a few extra tucked up my sleeve to try out later in the week.
First out of the gate was Lyra. I had picked more than I could really load into the bowl I had to hand and a few rolled onto the floor. Lyra immediately saw the potential and a thrilling game of crabapple snooker commenced. If you have paws and a nose a cue is not required and, rather than aiming for a pocket, the objective is to slalom round the kitchen table legs. It is a game of skill and the first break lasted a good half hour. It is only a matter of time before the BBC catch on and a giant table is constructed at the Crucible for televised matches.
Not to be left behind, I rolled up my sleeves and set to quartering the remaining contents of the bowl. These were then tipped, skin, pips and all into a giant pan with a bottle of last year’s apple juice and set to mulch down. They produced super thick fluffy applesauce in no time at all. This left me with the job of putting it through a sieve to remove the skin and pips – which was extremely tedious indeed. My search for the mouli (which would have speeded things up, brought only two of the necessary three bits to light. It did though unearth Anne’s lost Honda keys so you win some, you lose some). Once sieved, in went an unseemly amount of sugar, the juice of a lemon and some mixed spice and it was left to cook down whilst I tackled the dishes. I extracted a couple of ladles at the sloppy stage for an experimental tart and the rest pottered away on the Aga until it was dark and thick. At this point a good dose of sherry and some butter went in. Voilà – Apple Butter with a rather tarte tatin flavour. Lyra and I tested it on a misshapen scone and it scored well.
The sloppy puree was then enriched with an egg and some cream, ladled into a pastry case and baked to a set. It turned out with a consistency a bit like lemon curd. I thought I might fancy up the top with some caramelised crabapple slices as the pastry had been rather rough and ready. I cracked on with the apple and sugar but then had to call Lachlan as I could not for the life of me get the pink kitchen blowtorch to work. After consultations with Masterchef it transpired that the pink one “never works” (why is it still in the drawer? to fool any visiting pyromaniac??) and what I wanted was the yellow one. “Where’s that then?” I enquired. “Well I was the only one that ever used it so I took it to work on the Landrover” came the reply. Caramelised tyres perchance? Anyhoo, once the yella fella had been unearthed from the garage, I blazed away but progress was slow and I found it a bit underpowered. Perhaps in a return favour Lachlan could lend me his welding kit next time? The tart ultimately looked a bit hit or miss but was tasty and went down well at the last barbecue of the season so I shall persevere and try to brush up the recipe.
Stay tuned for further crabapple fun…………