We had very little fruit this year because of the drought. No peaches, few plums, no blackberries. Our smallest dwarf apple tree, though, was loaded with apples.
They are tiny this year, about golf-ball-sized and smaller. I picked nearly a five-gallon bucketful the day that Chuck, our steer, spent in the yard. He thought they were tasty, so I decided they were ready to pick and I stripped the tree. I let him enjoy the ones that had fallen to the ground.
Although they are so small, I am thankful that we were blessed with them, and I wasn't going to let them go to waste. But I didn't want to peel them either.
I decided that the best way to use this year's crop is to juice them. I'm nearly out of apple jelly, and I like using apple juice to make mixed fruit jelly or jam too. We still have applesauce and apple pie filling from last year. I haven't made apple jelly in a few years.
I'm convinced that the best way to deal with them this year would be with a steam juicer, which is high on my wish list but not yet in my kitchen.
I washed up enough for a first batch made the "old-fashioned way", and chopped them into quarters. When I make "other things" with apples I always save the peels and cores to make juice for jelly anyway, so I might as well just process these unpeeled.
They aren't very juicy this year, which isn't surprising due to our lack of rain. I added water to the pot, and simmered for an hour or so.
I smashed them with my mother's potato masher.
I know, you're not supposed to smash them, or to squeeze the jelly bag as it drains. Your juice will be cloudy if you do. Personally I'm not worried about my jelly being cloudy.
Then I poured it through my biggest strainer and let it drain into my big stockpot.
Yield: 3.5 cups of juice. It's in the freezer in a zipper freezer bag. I'll make it into jelly, or something else, over the winter when the house is chilly.
The chickens got the apple mush, which made them very happy.
One batch down... lots more to go...