It was a little over a year ago; we’d brought home a mid-century secretary desk, the kind that received many layers of white paint over the years.
It had a bookshelf, very much a happy mismatch of cookbooks, jars of kombucha, porcelain figurines, candles and notebooks. And two cupboards.
The one of the right had draws made of birch reminiscent of an old map storage cabinet, and quite frankly, the very reason we fell in love with the desk in the first place. The one on the left had one shelf; yes, just that, although I’ve since then covered with kraft paper printed with dark green pinecones.
If you were to open the left door today you’d find a collection of jars, some old, other recycled or new. And on the top shelf, our treasure, in the form of fruits and sugar. A redcurrant jelly made last year after we’d spent the day picking berries in Kusmark; one I still need to tell you about. Two little jars of blackcurrant jelly that my friend Suss gifted us. Bottles of cordial, redcurrant, rhubarb, even a blueberry and lavender. Fig jam and raspberry jam too!
There are jars of apple jelly, and two of äppelmos – apple sauce really, made with the small apples K. brought home from work last week.
And if like me, you made this compote late at night, leaving the jars to cool down on the kitchen counter, and a pot to soak in the sink, then, in the morning, as the coffee brewer hums and cracks, go on and set a pan on the stove. Oats, water and a little milk. A pinch of salt. When it has boiled, pour into your favourite plate – maybe it’s green, or chipped, or as mine, off-white and blue with cracked ceramic glaze-, open a jar of mos and spoon a generous dollop onto your porridge.
Äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon
Rather frankly, äppelmos is the kind of things that doesn’t call for a recipe; apples and sugar, a touch of acidity brough by lemon juice – or citric acid, in my case – and perhaps, a few vanilla beans, a grated piece of nutmeg, cinnamon sticks or even a few crushed pods of cardamom.
And yet, here am I, writing one down, with perhaps more steps than required. And really, I don’t have a good enough reason for doing so, other than I want to remember how long the jars were processed in the water-bath.
Maybe you’ll want to too, in which case, let me tell you that there are two approaches to äppelmos.
The first is to peel the apples, core them, and then cook them with a little water and sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice or citric acid, perhaps some spices too. When they’re soft, it’s just a matter of puréeing them using an immersion blender or by passing them through a fine-mesh sieve.
This method is best – read, quicker – for larger apples.
The second, that I like to call gammaldags [literally, of the old days] and one I’m partial to when it comes to making mos at home with the small apples that weigh down our apple trees comes early september, is to cook the apples, with their skin, seeds and stalk still on, only to then pass the compote through a fine-mesh sieve. Yes it takes time, but so does peeling very small apples.
I usually scoop a small quantity of cooked apples, a cup or two, into the sieve – placed over a large stable bowl – then using a slightly rigid plastic bowl scraper, press the apple flesh against the mesh of the sieve, going back and forth until it’s just the skins and peeps left.
And if you’re lucky enough to have a food mill, then please, go ahead and use it instead of a sieve!
This approach is also a wonderful way to use the discarded apples that have been boiled in water to make the French classic: gelée de pommes [apple jelly], recipe to come!
Äppelmos with vanilla and cinnamon
Makes three 300mL jars.
To make the passed apple flesh
300 g water
Wash the apples under cold water, then slice in four, leaving the skin and peeps on. Add the water, and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and mushy.
Scoop a small quantity of the cooked apples, a cup or two, into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large stable bow, and using a slightly rigid plastic bowl scraper, press the flesh against the mesh of the sieve, going back and forth until it’s just the skins and peeps left.
Repeat with the remaining apples, discarding the skins every now and then so as to not crowd the sieve.
To make the mos
1 kg of passed apple flesh or raw peeled and diced apples*
200 g caster sugar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp citric acid, or the juice from 1/2 lemon
3 small cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod
Place three 300mL jars along with their lids in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Then take them out and invert them onto a clean cloth. Allow to cool down and set the pan of boiling water to the side, while you get on with the mos.
Place the apple flesh, sugar, citric acid (or lemon juice), and cinnamon sticks into a pan. Flatten the vanilla pod, then slice in half and scrape the seeds into the pan, add the pod too.
*If you’re using raw peeled apples, place them in the pan along with 300g water, sugar, citric acid (or lemon juice), and cinnamon sticks.
Cook over medium heat, stirring now and then, until the compote starts to boil.
If you like a thicker mos, simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the desired consistency. If you started with raw peeled apples, cook them until soft enough to purée with an immersion blender, or you could leave your compote chunky too, perfect to make apple pies.
When ready, ladle into the sterilised jars, clean their rim if needed using a piece of damp kitchen paper, and screw the lids on.
Fold a clean tea towel and place it at the bottom of the large pan of water. Set the filled jars on top of it, then bring the pan to the boil. Simmer for 40 minutes, then leave the jars in the pan off the heat for another hour.
Carefully take them out, and allow to cool down, undisturbed. Use within a year. Once opened, store the jar in the fridge for up to a month.