Mountain apple recipe passes the test
My brother asked me to find a recipe for pickled mountain apples. I searched and searched, but the only recipes I could find were Indonesian or Indian — spicy and thickish. Not what he wanted. In old cookbooks, I found recipes for other simple pickles, including a grape pickle, and decided to see what would happen if I converted the recipe. The crisp-soft texture of grapes seemed so similar that I thought it would work. It did. And the result had a pleasant russet color.
If you don't have access to mountain apples, you could use grapes. This recipe is in the "Hilo Women's Club Cookbook" but an exact replica, attributed to the late Mrs. Robert A. Catton, is found in Maili Yardley's "Hawaii Cooks."
Mrs. Catton used Isabella grapes and peeled them before using them (she retained the skins and added them to the mixture after putting the grapes through a sieve). Isabella grapes are dark purple and large, and the skins slip off rather easily. If you try this with seedless red grapes, I wouldn't bother to skin them (what a chore!). Since you'll be using a food processor, not a sieve, no need to peel. You could also make this recipe with cooking apples, just cooking it a little longer; no need to peel, but do trim out the seeds.
This is meant to be served with roast, grilled or cold meats as a relish; I think it would be killer with roast ham. I've cut the recipe in half because we had only 3 pounds of mountain apples.
The only tough part about this recipe is cutting up the mountain apples and removing the seeds and the husk around them. Then just slice the flesh into large chunks.
You may use apple cider vinegar and brown sugar, if you like (brown sugar is heavier, so I'd go with four cups instead of five).
Maili Yardley also had a recipe for this in which she skips the sieving (processing) altogether and just throws chopped mountain apple into the vinegar-sugar mixture with desired spices. She cooked hers only 30 minutes.
SPICED MOUNTAIN APPLE CONSERVE
• 3 pounds mountain apples (or grapes or apples, seeded)
• 2 1/4 pounds sugar (about 5 cups)
• 1/4 pint vinegar (2 cups)
• 1 teaspoon cloves (ground or a half dozen whole)
• 2 1/4 teaspoons allspice (ground or a half dozen whole)
• 2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon (ground or a couple of whole sticks)
• A pinch of salt, if desired
Cut up mountain apples and chop briefly in a food processor; pulse only three or four times, just to cut them up. Don't worry if there are some larger chunks left. Be careful not to puree them.
In a large soup pot, combine sugar, vinegar and spices. Add mountain apples. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook slowly for 30 minutes (or up to an hour, if you prefer it very soft, as Mrs. Catton did). Leave a little texture, as for marmalade or chutney. You may have extra syrup. Remove all the fruit with a slotted spoon or Chinese wire ladle. Place in sterile jars, fill any remaining space with juice and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes if you're canning it or store in refrigerator.
I had enough syrup left to make another half-batch but — alas! — had no fruit left and no cooking apples. I was tempted to try it with pineapple but found the cupboard bare of that, too. If you're creative, you can think of something to do with this syrup (maybe for pancakes?).
Variations: Add a few white raisins or nuts to the mixture, or combine lightly poached cooking apples to the mixture to eke it out if you're short of mountain apples. You could even make a mango mountain apple mixture (use ripe mangoes).
Per 3/4-cup serving: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 27 g sugar, 0 g protein