Apple trees are everywhere. Birds drop seeds and they spring up unnoticed. Some times Councils plant them. Over the years I have become more mindful of what is around me when I walk and suddenly noticed about 5 years ago that on the walks that I do regularly there are a number of different apple trees. These walks are besides the canal, the river, in parks and on the edge of woods. It is perfectly lawful to pick these apples if you are just collecting for your own use, but it is illegal to sell them. If you see them on private land you will need the landowners permission first before you pick any. If you can not find any in your area it is always worth putting a shout out on social media as there are plenty of people that have apple trees in their gardens and would be happy to give you some if you pick the fruit for them.
We now collect these apples every Autumn. They are a free resource that is often just left to rot. They provide a major part of our winter nutrition and provide us with lovely puddings, alcohol and compote for our porridge in the morning. They also save us a lot of money. I noticed this year that people with apples in their gardens were also kind enough to leave some outside their gates for people to take for free.
We store and preserve our apples in different ways. Apples that having no bruising or marks I wrap individually in news paper and store in cardboard boxes in a cool room. I check them every month and remove any that might have gone off. These I have grated into homemade sausage rolls, have added to fruit salads, have added to curry, grated into mince pies and have used the skins to make apple cider vinegar. I also used some to make toffee apples this year.
This year I bottled some apple sauce for the first time. I did this by water bathing them. This we will use as a condiment with meat but also use with meringue and cream as an apple Eton mess or put in a dish with some crumbled ginger biscuits and ice cream as a dessert. There are lots of different desserts that you can use them for if you look on the internet. Apple sauce is also a great alternative to eggs in some cake recipes.
About four years ago we made some bottles of cider which was very strong and we still have a few left now. We made over 60 bottles with what we foraged that year and added brambles to some. It is great for cooking as well as drinking. We no longer drink and so now use all the apples in food instead. The bruised apples I chop and make as pie fillings or compote and freeze. Apples are great for padding out my blackberries or blackcurrants so that they last longer and are not as strong. The pie fillings are not only used in pies but are also used in crumbles, with a square of sponge on top with custard, with pancakes and yoghurt or in porridge. We have even put them into flapjack.
At this time of year (Autumn) you will often find fallen apples by the side of the road or on your walks. Why not take note of where they are so that you can gather some free food next year? It might improve your nutrition and provide you with some treats for free.