You see them just about every time you drive. They are mostly ignored by everyone. People drive by them and over them and feel the little bumps when they do. In the fall there are some places where they are really numerous.
No they're not potholes, they're apples - wild ( feral ) apples.
Possibly the product of those apples trees that sprang up from a tossed applecord years ago or a tree growing on a piece of ground that may have once been someones yard but is now at the perimeter of your local mall.
Some of those trees have been abandoned for years. Those trees however, if they produce regularly ( not necessarily prolifically ), have learned to survive in spite of being ignored. If they can live like that and still produce then they are obviously doing something right.
Give them a bit of attention. Pick some of their fruit and do something with it. And even better, while doing something with the fruit save some of the seeds and plant them somewhere. Surely you know a place in the country that could use an apple tree or two, an apple tree that has genes from good hardy stock.
Depending on the size and condition of the apples there are a lot of possibilities for using the fruit. If you gather them well into their ripening season you can get some really tasty apples. It will just take a bit of cutting and trimming from each apple to get the good parts - but you will be rewarded.
Applesauce is a good choice. And it is easy. No major equipment needed - just a few kitchen implements.
4. Procedure / technique
This tutorial is based on using those apples that are feral ( gone wild ). Of course the steps shown here can be used for store or farm bought apples just as well.
I only used wild apples because it is in the spirit of 'foraging', which is one of my joys.
A bunch of wild apples, blemished, irregular and misshapen
but mostly in good enough shape to at least contribute some of their parts to the end product.
Wash them up real good.
Then relax somewhere, peel them, cut off the bad spots and the core. As you work these pieces drop them into water that has several squirts of ReaLemon to keep them from browning up.
When you get all the good parts you can from the bunch you collected cut them into smaller parts so they heat through quickly when ready to start cooking.
Add just enough water to the pot - slowly - until you can just see it almost get to the level of the apples. We don't want to add too much water because if there is too much you will need to cook the sauce too long to cook off the water.
Cut up wild apple pieces ready to start cooking.
After about 15 minutes of simmering check to see if they are soft enough to mash with a potato masher. If so, mash as much as you can.
Eventually the masher will not be the correct tool anymore because the apple pieces will be too small and just slip between the masher.
When the apple pieces are softened up mash them with a potato masher.
After the masher stops being effective it's time to use the whisk.
Whisk like crazy.
It will break up the little chunks into even smaller chunks.
After mashed up as good as can be mashed with the masher use the whisk and go at it.
After a bit of whisking, while simmering, the little chunks will be too little to be whisked anymore.
Time for the colender / sieve.
Dump everything from the cooking pot into a colender which is setting in another pot or bowl.
Use the whisk on the sauce in the colender / sieve and work as much of the sauce through as you think is necessary.
I don't go hog while. When it get to the point where it just does not seem to go through the colender anymore I eat the stuff that is left - right then and there. It's a bonus for the cook.
The mash is almost all uniform but there are still some pieces that just won't get small enough, even with the whisk.
Time to work the mash through a colender / sieve.
After all the sauce from the cooking pot has been worked through the colender / sieve put it back into the cooking pot and simmer until you see that the sauce is thickened enough to be actual sauce - not just a thick juice. You will know it getting there when you are stirring and the swirls from the stirring remain swirls for a while.
Now that all the mash has been worked through the colender / sieve
the mash is put back in the pot to cook off some of the water to thicken the sauce.
Pour the sauce into a deep bowl and see if it will pass the 'standing spoon' test. You should be able to put an upright spoon in it and have it remain standing. If it won't you need to simmer a bit longer to cook off some additional water in the sauce.
Passing the 'standing spoon' test will be a good indicator that the sauce is of good enough consistency to be considered applesauce.
Sauce will be ready when the final step is taken - checking the sweetness.
If you have picked apples that are very late in the season, depending on the variety of apple, since they all have different ripening times, you may or may not need any sweetening at all.
Add whatever sweetener you like a little at a time until you are satisfied with the final product.
A bowl of cold wild apple applesauce to use as a dessert for the evening meal.
With just a few apples you can make quite a bit of sauce. You will be surprised how much you will enjoy it knowing that you got it for nothing and that the ingredients were only what you put into it, good clean apples and no other additives.