What to do with those apples you just picked
Have you ever had a walk around your neighborhood and realized how many apple trees there are? The beautiful shiny red and pink apple colors are not only nice to look at but the fruit also boasts of amazing life-extending benefits, rich in vitamins, dietary fibres, and antioxidants. Before summer season ends, the apples start to get ripe and ready to be picked until year-end depending on the weather and temperatures.
Nature can be quite generous. Apple trees can produce tons and tons, and before you know it, the trees are just brimming with juicy apples, to the point that most of them just fall to the ground. Apple trees bear more fruits than the owners can pick and store so a lot of them give the apples away.
Some would often put apples inside a box and place them in front of their gates or somewhere close to streets, visible enough for other people to take as many apples as they wish. Plastic bags are sometimes provided, with a small note written on a piece of paper that says, ole hyvää, which means you're welcome to help yourself.
So if you're one of the apple tree owners who are clueless on what to do with the overwhelming amount of apples, or the lucky neighbor who got some of these free juicy fruits, here are three simple recipes you can make for your family. Easy to make and nutritious, you can also give your friendly neighbor one of these as a thank you gift.
Easy and delicious apple sauce/ Omena sose
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional)
1/2 cup water
1. Prepare apples by peeling them (optional), coring them, and cutting them in slices/pieces.
2. Transfer the apples, water, and cinnamon (if using) into a pot.
3. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender.
4. Let it cool, blend until it turns into a total puree texture (optional), or keep it as it is if you like it chunky.
There's a large variety of apples. If they are sweet enough, no need for any sweetener. Just add some fresh lemons when serving. If apples are sour, add any sweeter you like such as unrefined brown sugar, maple syrup, or any dry fruit such as soft dates (for a sugar-free and healthier option especially for kids). If using dates, add them to your cooked apples, then blend all together so that the apple sauce gets uniformly sweet. You can also personalize the apple sauce by adding extra spices such as more cinnamon, nutmeg, clove (mauste-neilikka), ginger/ginger-bread spices, or vanilla.
***You can use applesauce to eat with porridge, pancakes, sugar-free-muesli/cereal breakfast, into smoothies, for baking, or alone as a breakfast/dessert/snack by adding some chopped nuts such as pecan-nuts for extra flavor and more nutrients especially for kids.
Simple and delicious cinnamon apple in the oven
Since cinnamon is an all-time favorite spice, it's good to use it for a healthy fun snack and fill the house with its aroma as well. Apples in the oven are quite common, but this is a healthier, sugar-free, and more nutritious option without losing the taste.
1. Preheat the oven to 180-200°C.
2. Cut the top part of apples, remove the harder central part and seeds from them but be careful not to cut a hole in the bottom of the sides of apples.
3. Prepare the apple filling. In a bowl, mix a few spoons of oat flakes (kaurahiutale), cinnamon, some apples diced finely or grated (to give more moist), raisins/dried cranberries (karpalo) or any dried fruit like figs, apricots or dates (all chopped small like raisins). This works as an extra flavour and sweetener if apples are sour, and some chopped nuts such as pecans for extra nutrients. You really don’t need to measure these filling ingredients, just add them right proportion for each and combine well. Adjust the flavors according to your taste; for example more cinnamon, vanilla or gingerbread spices.
4. Evenly divide the filling mixture between each apple and place them inside an oven dish.
5. Bake for 15-30 minutes until the apples turn golden brown and soften. Baking time will vary depending on the variety of apples and the oven.
6. Once apples are ready, let them cool and serve, then add extra nuts chopped, tiny maple syrup or chocolate chips especially for kids to make it fun and encourage them to eat this healthy snack.
Quick, flavourful, and versatile fruit salad
Fruit salad is easy-to-prepare, tasty, and healthy that can be eaten pretty much anytime of the day, a dessert or a snack, for breakfast or even light dinner. If you don’t have much time, make it easier by using fruits that don’t need cutting anymore such as grapes, berries, and some pineapple chunks from the can (optional). Try to use mostly apples and some berries, as berries are very healthy and Finland produces them in a large variety.
Combine chopped apples with other fruits such as strawberries, kiwi and add your favorite sugar-free juice or freshly squeezed oranges to give more taste and aroma, especially for kids. In the end, you could add some cinnamon or vanilla, and nuts for extra flavor and for more nutrients.
To make it more fun and to encourage picky children to eat more fresh fruits, you can also add some chocolate chips as a topping. Perhaps hide a candy afterward in the bowl of fruit salad and tell them there's a treasure to find if they eat the whole bowl. You can also try the combination of apple slices put on top of a biscuit drizzled by cinnamon.