Monday, August 25, 2014
I am an enthusiastic forager and this time of year features a truly fun fruit to forage, the may apple. I first read about may apples from the infamous Euell Gibbons who wrote about the wonderful flavors of may apples in his book Stalking the Wild Asparagus. He claimed they tasted like ambrosia which instantly peaked my interest. The forest across from me has a bounty of these fun and beautiful plants. It is a fun plant to forage for because the leaves themselves are easy to identify but the fruit is much more like a scavenger hunt. The fruit are ripe when they are yellow and they can still be attached the plant sprouting two leaves or laying on the ground recently dropped by the plant. But you will be will competing with the deer for this delicious treat so you have to keep an eye on them as they progress into ripeness.
Now at the end of August of 2014, there are in peak season and soon they will all be gone either from the deer or they will be turning brown and will be of no use. Collect them when they are yellow and slightly soft or when slightly green and just keep them on the counter until they ripen. It took only a couple days in a paper bag to turn from a slight green to yellow and be ready to go.
Euell Gibbons talked of making a marmalade out of the may apples but the 5 cups of sugar was a definite turn off for me. A friend and I had made some wild grape jam the previous fall without any sugar or sure-jell at all so I wanted to see what would happen with may apples under the same process. I quartered my may apples and tossed them into a pot under low heat. Within a half hour they became very mushy and I took a potato masher to them to speed up the process. After another half hour I put them in a steel colander and pushed the pulp and juice through and separated them from the seeds. You do not want to eat the seeds - they are toxic. These I tossed back into the woods to continue the cycle of bountiful may apple fun. On the heat again for another half hour and the sauce thickened right up. About 2 dozen may apples produced about a cup of this thick may apple jam. And the taste was MARVELOUS. Like nothing in the grocery store which makes the whole process even more worth it.
Next I put this mixture in the freezer. In my house we have a special treat called Banana Surprise. It is simply a frozen banana in the vitamix along with about a half cup of coconut milk. Voila you have a healthy ice cream like treat. For a completely dreamy ice cream delight combine the frozen banana, coconut milk and two heaping tablespoons of frozen may apple puree and your taste buds will explode!!!