I’ve been plotting to make apple pie all week long, ever since I arrived here at The Lord’s Acre and discovered the gift of a bag of crisp apples welcoming me. For most of my life, there was no hesitation in what to do with them: chomp straight into them, savor each juicy bite, polish them off, core and all.
Now that I am avoiding sugars and sweeteners, including fruit for the time being, I have to get creative. I decided the CRAFT potluck this weekend would be the perfect opportunity to play around with the quintessential American dessert, hone my pie making skills, and enjoy my favorite fruit vicariously. And so I spent the week seeking out a pie pan and all-purpose flour, finding creative ways to bake in my tiny new kitchen with minimal cooking supplies, and fantasizing about a gorgeous latticework crust. (Thanks to King Arthur Flour for the guidance.) Cutting off the rhubarb flowers provided me with a few stalks to throw into the pie on a whim as well.
I forgot one small detail however: aluminum foil. Which, as it turns out, is pretty crucial, with a lattice top in particular, if you don’t want your crust to burn to a crisp and your filling to dry out — especially if your tiny oven runs rather hot. Ironically, after a week of buildup, offering half of my precious butter and much of the morning to cutting pastry dough with knives and rolling it out with my water-bottle, then carefully coring and cutting thin sliced of apple with a paring knife, I ended up with precisely that. The filling was still delicious, so I hear, even if it had to be scraped away from the bottom crust that took an overnight soak to finally remove from the pan.
Lesson learned, hopefully. I’ll be more prepared next time I make a pie… which amazingly enough, somehow, I still have a hankering to do. In the meantime, I turned the leftover filling into an apple-rhubarb crisp that was an unequivocal success.
But most importantly, I acquired what I was truly most interested in — apple peels and cores to turn into vinegar. As soon as I first heard of this simple and innovative way to transform what we usually just toss into one of the more incredible substances on earth I knew I had to try it for myself. The process may take several months, especially since I didn’t add any sweetener to the mix, but it looks like it will be exciting to watch. Now, a day later, it has already turned light yellow, smells slightly like vinegar, and has gotten quite “fizzy” at the top. So cool, makes the rest of the apple saga worth it. Thanks to HubPages for such clear guidance. Excited to see how it turns out!
Apple Rhubarb Pie
Double pie crust (I made a double recipe of sourdough crust)
6-8 apples, cored and thinly sliced
4-6 stalks rhubarb, chopped
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon, to taste
1 teaspoon cardamon
1 tablespoon freshly grated or minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar (or sweetener of choice)
1-2 tablespoons cold butter (optional, I forgot it and it was fine)
Roll out bottom pie crust and press into greased pie pan, then return to the fridge to chill. Mix together apples, rhubarb, spices, salt, and sugar, then spoon into pie crust (it will likely arch above the rim of pie pan a bit, which is fine. Distribute small dabs of butter around the surface of the pie. Return to fridge and roll out top crust, Cut into lattice or use whole with a few slits cut into it. Preheat oven to 425F and bake for 20 minutes, then reduce to 350 and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until bubbly. Cover with aluminum foil after the first 20-30 minutes to keep from over-browning the crust or drying out the filling (especially if lattice top). Let cool before serving.
Apple Rhubarb Crisp
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour (whole wheat, all-purpose, gluten-free, whatever you wish)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
Apple rhubarb filling (same as above)
Mix together dry ingredients, then cut butter into it until in coarse crumbs.Line the bottom of a small greased baking pan with filling, then spread the crumble over the top with a spoon. Preheat oven to 350F and bake for 40 minutes, until bubbly and topping is lightly golden and crisped. If you like it darker and crispy, try increasing the heat to 375F for 5-10 minutes.
Apple Scrap Vinegar
Cores and “heels” of 6-8 apples
A few cups water
A tablespoon or so of sugar or apple cider vinegar (optional)
Place apple scraps in a quart jar. Fill jar with water until about 3/4 full. Stir in sugar or apple cider vinegar if desired to kick start the fermentation process. Weigh down with another jar or a plastic bag with enough water to bring liquid above the level of the apple scraps. Let sit for 2-3 weeks, in a relatively cool spot if possible. Check every day or two to make sure apple scraps remain below liquid, and skim off any “bloom” if necessary. ( I occasionally had to readjust the weight and remove a couple tiny scraps to eliminate floaters, but so far have had no problems with scum accumulating at the surface).
Strain out the solids, then cover the jar with a cloth or paper towel and leave to ferment another month or two, stirring every day. The process will take longer without the boost of added sweetener. Check the flavor every week or so. When soured to your liking, put a lid on the jar and store in a cool place.
Note: Sugar ants seemed very attracted to the fermenting vinegar. I placed the jar in a larger bowl of water to avoid having to deal with drowned ants.