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Helen Chesnut: Abundant apples ideal for delicious recipes

Many gardeners are blessed this year with a generous apple crop.

Dear Helen: I am looking for quick and easy ways to use the abundance of apples my two small trees have produced this summer. I’ve shared some with friends but still have a hefty number to process.


Many gardeners are blessed this year with a generous apple crop. I’ve begun processing my Discovery apples, starting with a delectable prune plum and apple sauce sweetened and flavoured with scissored strips of candied ginger. I start out all my fruit sauces, which I also use as jam, with a little water and freshly squeezed lemon juice before adding the fruit and whatever spices I use. With blueberries, I add a cinnamon stick during the cooking.

I never bother to remove the apple skins before slicing them for cooking in the large wok I use for all my fruit sauces and vegetable purées. An immersion blender quickly transforms cooked fruit into a smooth sauce.

Plain apple sauce uses a good number of apples quickly. Currently, I favour candied ginger to brighten the flavour. My Discovery apples have enough red in the flesh to make a lovely pink sauce.

I use many apples to create almost instant pies in winter. I slice the apples into orange juice flavoured with a little vanilla, and scoop them into lightly buttered aluminum pie plates. Once frozen, the apple forms can be wrapped, packaged and put back in the freezer for popping into a pie crust shell and baking. I usually top fruit pies simply with sliced almonds dusted with cinnamon and coconut sugar.

There are many variations on apple cake, nice to make during fresh apple season. A clafouti is quickly made, with almost any fruit or berry.

Apple clafouti

Apple slices

2 Tbsp butter

1 cup milk (or 1/2 cup each milk and cream)

1/4 cup sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup flour

Heat butter to sizzling at 375 F in a cast iron or other heavy skillet or baking dish.

Place a generous layer of apple slices in the butter. Heat slightly to begin softening the apples. Whisk or whirl in a blender the remaining ingredients. Pour over apples.

Optional: Scatter sliced almonds over top.

Dust with cinnamon and coconut sugar.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until puffy and brown.


Gordon Head meeting. The Gordon Head Garden Club will meet this evening (Wednesday, Sept. 6) from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Gordon Head Lawn Bowling Club, 4505 Lambrick Way. Jiilian Tuson, a Saanich municipal arborist, will speak about the Urban Forest Strategy for tree planting and small tree maintenance, including the impact of climate change on establishing new trees. Visitors are welcome at no charge.

Dahlia meeting. The Victoria Dahlia Society will meet on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. in St. Michael’s Church, 4733 West Saanich Rd. The meeting will be the society’s annual Parlour Show of members’ blooms. Visitors are welcome to join the gathering as observers.

Cactus show and sale. The Victoria Cactus and Succulent Society is hosting a Show and Sale on Friday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Church of the Advent, 510 Mt. View St. in Colwood. The event this year will include house plants, carnivorous plants and pelargoniums (tender geraniums).

Festival of floral designs. St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Qualicum Beach invites the public to their Flower Festival on Saturday, Sept. 9, and Sunday, Sept. 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the church at the corner of Memorial Avenue and Hoylake Road. View designs based on the theme “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” created by members of the Mid-Island Floral Arts Club and local Oceanside churches. Entry is by donation.

Abkhazki Garden. Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. in Victoria, is celebrating Grandparents Day on Sunday, Sept. 10, with free admission to an Open House from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last entry at 4). Visit this heritage garden with your grandchildren and learn about its history. Prizes to be won include Afternoon Tea for Two at the Teahouse, children’s activity books and more. Wander through the beautiful garden and look in at the Plant Sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most of the plants are grown at the garden

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