If you have an apple tree, chances are you are currently desperately offloading apples to friends and family, as well as to innocent bystanders. If you’re in such a fortunate position, steamed apples might be the answer to your apple glut: easy to make, simple to preserve, and incredibly low-maintenance to store: by sterilising the steamed apples in their jars, they will keep for a good 12 months in a dark cupboard, not wasting any space in the fridge or freezer.
Preserving food using jam jars is a method I use for keeping all sorts of foods: the fact that you can keep a cake fresh for up to a fortnight, or store a beef stew in a cupboard for a good 6 months without losing any flavour or colour, amazes me every time I do it. This method allows me to cook larger batches without having to find a space in my fridge or freezer to keep the leftovers. The key to preserving lies in the sterilising process: any old jam jar will do, as long as it can be sealed.
The recipe is for 1 kg of apples, any apples: simply double the recipe to suit your needs, add more sugar if they are on the acidic side, or use more water if they’re a little dry. It’s perfect for those not-quite-nice-enough-to-eat kind of apples, but even surplus cooking apples can be used, with a little extra sweetener. Obviously, honey or maple syrup can be used if you want to avoid sugar, but most apples are sweet enough on their own!
Steamed Apple. lightly spiced (makes ca. 750ml)
- 1 kg apples, any type
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp sugar, to taste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
Heat the oven to 160C / 320 F Clean 3 or 4 jam jars and their lids with soap, rinse them carefully and remove any metal lids or rubber seals. Place the glass jars upside down into the oven. Leave to dry for ca. 20 minutes, then switch the oven off.
Place the rubber seals and metal lids in a small bowl filled with water and bring it to the boil. Boil for ca. 5 minutes, then pour out the water and leave them to dry in the pan.
Peel and de-core the apples, cut them into quarters and place them into a medium-sized pan with the lemon juice and the water. If your apples are on the dry side, double the amount of water; if they are very sour, add more sugar. Similarly, add the spices to suit your tastes. I like just a hint of spice to bring out the apple taste, but you might fancy an altogether spicier dish. Bring the lot to the boil, then cover the pot and turn the heat down, leaving the apples to simmer lightly.
Fill the hot steamed apples into the hot jars; close the lids firmly, then place the jars into a deep oven dish which you fill with boiling water, at least 2 in / 4 cm deep. Then return the jars to the oven: heat it to 90C / 90F and keep the jars in there for 35-40 minutes.
Remove, label and keep them in a cool and dark place. They’ll keep for a year, if you can hold out for that long!