September 20, 2017

Apple Harvest, Apple Storage and a Recipe for a Traditional Irish Apple Blackberry Pie

make a traditional Irish  apple blackberry pie and learn how to harvest and store apples through out the winter

The boys and I were out picking apples this weekend. Unfortunately this years harvest isn't as plentiful as the years before. In early Spring frost hit the trees while they were in full blossom and at their fragilest. I am not sure, if I will have enough to make apple sauce to last for the whole year, but we´ll find a replacement when time comes. The boys still had a blast climbing the tree and picking the apples. What we usually do is we collect them all, including the ones that have fallen on the ground as they only attract wasps and slugs if you leave them there. And we have plenty of those around anyway and we don't need any more.

Once we are back home, we sort all apples into 3 different piles. The impeccable ones, the ones that already have holes from wasps and the ones that have brown spots or are a bit soft from falling off the tree. 

Store apples successfully through out the winter
Above you see the "impeccable" apples, that we store loosely  in cardboard boxes for storing & eating through out the winter.
These boxes remain in a dark cool place, aka our garage. To keep, they need circulating air around them. That is why we never layer the apples and check the boxes every 7-10d. This is when we remove the ones that do not look tippy-toppy anymore and turn every apple slightly. By doing this, they last longer without getting brown and mushy spots. They usually last till January/Febuary this way. At this point they get softer and wrinkly and there is just not much crunchy joy taking a hearty bite outta them. But they are still eatable. This is when I usually turn them into apple sauce.

Apples with different marks for instant use

The pile with the wasp hole riddled apples, are for instant use. (in the above picture on the left)  They won't keep long until they get mouldy. This time we turned most of them into an apple blackberry pie.

The pile with brown or soft spots (in the above picture on the right) on the apples will keep a little bit longer but are for pretty soon use, too.

traditional Irish apple blackberry pie

After storing the very good apples for later eating, we went and peeled, cleaned and chopped up the wasp hole riddled apples. Our plan was to treat us to a traditional apple and blackberry pie. The recipe I use was handed down in our family and is very simple. The pie crust has no sugar in it. This is the way they made them traditionally in the old days. I sprinkle a little homemade vanilla sugar over the chopped fruit before I close the pie. My granny used to also brush the top pie crust with milk and sprinkle sugar over the piecrust after closing it, but I usually skip that step. Mind you as a kid I loved the extra sweetness! We eat the pie either with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

BTW I use the same pie crust for Quiches. As there is no sugar in the recipe, you can basically use it for anything!

Let´s get started.
For the pie crust:
80 grams butter. I use cold butter and mix the dough in the food processor. But if you use a normal mixer or a wooden spoon or your fingers you might be better off to use soft butter, and store the mixed dough for 15-30 mins in the fridge before rolling it, this is how we used to do it before all those high tech appliances made it into our lives.
180 grams of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
60 ml of cold water (If the dough is for a sweet pie, I sometimes use fresh whey or buttermilk, this isn't the traditional way but a very tasty variation well worth trying!)

The dough is a tiny bit sticky but will be easily rolled out with a rolling pen if you have a floured surface and some flour on your rolling pen. But be aware to never use too much flour on a pie crust, as it will get too dry. As I mentioned before, if you use soft butter, you might want to cool the dough before you roll it out, this will help with the stickiness.

I don't use a traditional pie dish, but a deep one, as I like a lot of filling in mine. Grease your baking pan and, roll out 2/3 of the dough and put 1/3 back into the fridge. The dough should be rolled out big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your pie dish plus a little over the edge. Enough that you can fold it back over the top later. Poke a few holes into the bottom with a fork and set aside.

traditional Irish apple blackberry pie

For the filling:
Peel, core and chop enough apples to fill your pie dish. (depending on the size of the apples 3-5) and mix with the juice of half a lemon and  pour into your prepared pie dish over the bottom crust. Add a a cup full of blackberries.  Sprinkle with one-two tablespoons of homemade vanilla sugar. Roll out the last third of your dough and use it as a "lid" for your apple blackberry pie. Dip your finger in cold water and use the water as glue for your pie edges to stick together. Now press them together with a fork and also poke some holes into your pie top with the fork.

traditional Irish apple blackberry pie

Traditionally, as mentioned above, you brush the top of your pie with milk and sprinkle it with a little sugar before you bake it. But I usually skip that part.

Preheat your oven to 230C/450F and bake for 5 mins. Then reduce the heat to 160C/320F and bake for 30-45 minutes until golden. I have to say I like my pie just slightly cooled down and still hot enough to melt the ice cream or cream on top of it. How do you like it best? Cold or still warm?

traditional Irish apple blackberry pie

Enjoy this lovely autumn and treat yourself to some yummy pie!