The Hungarian poet, Dezső Kosztolányi has a beautiful poem which title inspired mine, however he dreamt of colourful inks, that he could use for writing letters to the loved ones (You can read the poem in English here)
So instead of inks, I dream of apples. Of quince, yellow-green Golden apples and reddish ‘scone’ apples. Also, of French Tarte Tatin, my mother’s apple pie, apple jam and compote and paste. I read about apples, talk about it with my grandmother, Áron’s mother and my friend, Mária who is as passionate of cooking and baking as I am. I carry cratefuls of apples to friends and family members.
We have four apple trees in our orchard, three of them grow fruits. Three years ago when we moved into our little house they looked like as if they were characters from Lord of the rings; with their uncared canopies and rotten branches they could probably scare you at a moonless night. The gardener of the village, András started to look after them and they payed back the drastic pruning. They are real survivors. I love their gnarled trunks, their already round canopies and the wonderful fruit that they supply to us. Last year there were almost no apples, as if they knew we cannot look after them during the renovation. But now their branches are full of fruits, so many that a branch broke down because of the weight. Once walking around at the market hall, a lady offered me her apples. After telling her that I also have trees, we started a long conversation about harvest, and apple and I get to know that you must remove some apples from the tree, while they are still small, if you see there will be too many. This way the energy goes to less fruits, so they will be bigger and you can avoid branch breaks. Knowledge often comes when and from where you won’t expect at all.
In the morning I prepare baskets, crates and a fruit picker and start picking. I do it gradually, so I only collect as many as I can cook or give to somebody. I have two four-legged partners in this work, they both like helping me in their way. Beeper, my dog considers apples as balls, so she brings the fallen ones for me to throw them until she needs a rest and she eats the apples under a bush. ‘Two in one’ type of joy.
If they are out with Áron, they go down to the creek which flows at the end of our yard. She puts the apple on a rotten tree trunk, waits until it rolls down and falls into the creek. She jumps into the water, catches the apple, brings back to the tree trunk and so on. This will continue until Áron brings her up to the house in his arms, because she is just as a little human girl whose mouth is already blue but she won’t get out of the lake.
Gata is faithful to her ‘catness’: she climbs up the tree, hunts in the corn field and has a well-deserved rest in the apple crate.
If perfect moment in life exists, this one is such one for me. I wish I could stay there, picking apples and watching these two little creatures playing forever but the day, my work and my apple jam is waiting for me. Nature made me rich- I have lot of opportunities to experiment with these fruits. I would like to try cooking jam without preservatives, compote; quince paste is already drying on the kitchen pantry shelf and there are recipes from old cookbooks that I would like to try as well. I brought a crate of apples to my grandmother, soon there are also a bowlful of them, she is also experimenting- we enjoy this game.
The coming weeks I will share apple recipes with you- maybe more often than my usual blog post timings- so we can enjoy together the season of this colourful, diverse and versatile fruit.
First I share Erzsi’s, my boyfriend’s mother’s recipe with you, for which I used our little bit sour Golden delicious apples. Soon “scone” apple harvest is coming…
Apple jam by Erzsi
I liked Erzsi’s method, because she reduces the amount of preservative, altough she doesn’t omit it completely. I will continue trying versions without preservatives, sugar and time will bring the answer which one will be resistant.
I case we don’t eat them all before…
2000 g apples
500 g caster sugar
ground cinnamon and ground clove according to your taste
a pinch of sodium benzoate
Boil a cup of water and dissolve sodium benzoate. Rinse jars with this water then put them into the microwave for 2 minutes and place them upside- down on a clean kitchen towel. Be careful, they can be hot! Fill cold water into big bowls and squeeze lemon juice into each of them. Peel apples, remove seeds and slice thinly then place immediately to the water to avoid browning. By the time you are finished with all the apples, remove the apple from water, put it into a big pot along with the sugar and cook until it gets soft. Mash with a blender, season with cinnamon and clove (add them gradually and taste, they should not dominate apple’s natural taste). Bring it to boil and cook for further 15 minutes. Fill the jam into the jars, close them and put them tight under thick blanket. Let them cool down.