Wild Apples – The best things in life are free!

Most of us know that apples grow wild all over the landscape of most of the Maritimes. We buy apples from the store or from an orchard this is a good way to support local growers and is nice because the fruit is convenient, plump, sweet, and uniform and has a predictable flavour…

The wild apple on the other hand is another story, it needs to be tamed, and it can be bitter, sour, super sweet, huge or small and is often scabby. This is where the fun of apple domestication begins!

I would like to share some of my personal tricks to taming the wild apple into a food source that is easy to prepare, store and best of all is free, organic and I believe super nutritious.


Taming wild apples:

  • Don’t worry about a couple of scabs! They are fine to eat and have no impact on the flavor of the fruit
  • Wild apples are often wormy, unless you plan to store them long term this has little effect on the quality of the cooked product
  • Keep your eyes peeled for apple trees on the road side and in in abandoned homesteads, the best times to find them is in the spring when the plants are bare, the apple trees are blossoming and of course when the fruit starts to show
  • ALWAYS stop and taste every apple you see (much to the chagrin of your passengers), wild apples have an extremely wide range of flavors, in fact many of them are heritage breeds that have been long forgotten.  There is so much variety between species of apples & growing site conditions that you will likely find a gem!
  • Remember wild apple trees produce better fruit some years than others, so check on them every year.
  • It is important to get to know the flavors and times of the year our wild trees produce the best fruit

Apple harvesting hacks

  • If you want storage apples make sure to pick them by hand so they do not bruise. The best apples are up high so climb the tree or rig yourself a stick with a hook on the end.
  • Get some friends and a large blanket to catch the apples as you shake the tree
  • For all other uses put a tarp under the tree, climb into it and shake it like there is no tomorrow!

Here are my favorite easy to prepare recipes:

Apple butter:

  1. Pass apples through a pealing and coring machine putting them in a crock pot
  2. Pour 1 cup of sugar or honey on top
  3. Put in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon or a mix of your favorite apple spices
  4. Set the crock pot on low over night, wake up in the morning, take the lid off and put it on high for a couple hours
  5. Can it in a hot water bath if you want (here is a super step by step canning resource!)



Coring machine (around $20)


Apple sauce:

  1. Throw all your apples into a stock pot
  2. Boil them down until they are completely mash able.
  3. Pass them through a food mill
  4. Can it in a hot water bath if you want



Food Mill


Storage apples:

  1. Chose apples without bruises
  2. Wrap them in news paper
  3. Store in a cool dry place (good for 2-3 months or more)
  4. Flavour usually sweetens with time



Storage apples (6 months after harvest)


Apple cider vinegar:

  1. Place your left over apple peals and cores in a big jar or crock
  2. Follow this link

Apple chips:

  1. Pass apples through a pealing and coring machine
  2. Place them in a food dehydrator (at any of the temperature settings)
  3. They should be good to go in 24hrs or less



Food Dehydrator


Frozen pie filling or winter treat:

  1. Pass apples through a pealing and coring machine
  2. Mix them with a half cup of sugar or honey
  3. Put in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon or a mix of your favorite apple spices
  4. Bag them and freeze them until you feel creative in the winter

Have fun, Enjoy the wild apple hunting season!

Aaron Shantz – Community Coordinator Our Food Southeast NB

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