I would like to introduce you to the King of the Pippins, the most beautiful and aromatic apple in the world. If you have ever found such apples on the market and were put off by their greyish spots or uneven colour, wait to cook, bake them or simply leave them for several days and feel the wonderful smell they leave in your kitchen. Then you’ll understand why in the olden days apples were used as interior perfume.
Developed by the French in the 18th century, King of the Pippins (or “reine de reinettes” in French) is one of the oldest apple varieties. Due to its strong aroma, its sharp, but not acid taste, it is considered perfect for cooking, baking and preserving. Personally, I don’t undertstand why it is not considered also as one of the best apples even eaten raw. But then, I do not belong to the majority of consumers who love overly sweet, bland (read: tasteless) apples…. provided they are red and shiny. Luckily King of the Pippins is not forgotten by my farmers’ market and I can buy it every year!
As you may have already guessed King of the Pippins is not the kind of apple found all year long in supermarkets nor industrially farmed, so if you want to keep a bit of its exceptional taste, make some jars of apple sauce and use it later in cakes or pies. When making apple sauce I usually add either vanilla or cinnamon, but King of the Pippins is an exception. It is simply too good to be mixed with any spice, and the sauce has such a beautiful golden colour it would be pity to spoil it with anything.
As in the case of Pear and Prune Sauce, this one can be made in two times, for example the apples’ softening stage one day and the rest the following day.
Preparation: 2 hours (+ hot water bath processing)
Special equipment: a food mill (a sieve and a spoon my be used instead, but it takes much longer)
Ingredients (yield: 4 – 5 x 300ml jars):
2 kg apples
1 kg or more caster sugar (the amount depends on the apples’ degree of maturity)
juice from one big lemon
Cut up the pears roughly in 4 pieces each, discarding only the stems. Put them into a big pan (there should be some free space at the top), add the water, cover and cook on medium heat until they are completely soft and fall into pieces.
Pass them through a food mill (the skins and pips should be left in the fruit mill).
Put back into the pan, add the lemon juice and the sugar. Cook uncovered on a medium heat.
After 30 minutes check the consistency. When it has reached the thickness of a sauce, taste it and add more sugar if required. Cook 10 more minutes.
/At this point you can either freeze it (after the sauce has cooled down) or keep it in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or process it in the jars, as described below, and store it in your pantry for at least a year!/
Pour the sauce, still hot, into sterilised jars. Cover with lids. Leave the jars to cool.
Place the cool jars in a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling – water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the sauce and don’t forget to mark the date.