This month is going to be busy in Mämmi. I signed myself to VeganMoFo, which is kind of like NaNoWriMo for foodies. Since we can't write a novel in a month, we instead blog about food every day during the month. I made the decision in a bit whim after I saw Mihl of the wonderful blog Seitan is My Motor planning to participate with the theme of classic German desserts. To the theme question I just wrote "Finnish seasonal dishes", though perhaps I should've thought about that more thoroughly considering that's pretty much the theme of my whole blog, but hopefully it does give some idea for those who haven't visited here before. At least that way I shouldn't be running short of ideas. And if this one goes well I promise to consider following a low-carb diet next year. Or perhaps blog about puréed baby food.
So, you can expect a lot of mushroom and berry recipes, along with root veggies and other new harvest treats. I guess this could be characterized as a budget theme too, unless I decide to drown them in alcohol, since most of my main ingredients are going to be completely free for me. I already made a list of 30 dishes I might post on the upcoming weeks, but some of them involve finding the right ingredient besides the regular not failing epically part, and then again I'll probaly find and thus cook something completely unexpected too. Oh, and I do have a reservation: there's a good chance our child is going to be born during this month. If that happens, you probably understand why you won't here about me for a while. :)
Apples, apples everywhere
As an opener, I'll tell about something that's so simple it really doesn't even need a recipe: juicing. This is the time when many Finns find their apple trees bearing so much fruit they don't know what to do with it all. So a friend of ours invited us to pick as much apples as we can carry from his backyard and told us to come again after couple of weeks. Now, I never buy apples during wintertime. Those imported apple varieties you can find from every store are huge in size, perfectly shaped and don't seem to taste like anything at all. But there are few better things in the world than fresh domestic apples. So we rushed there.
Only after having a sauna and getting back home did we start to wonder what we'd do with all those apples. Pies are great but even with them there's a limit of how much you can eat them. I've had this hope of making cider myself, but right now with the baby coming and all I wouldn't get to drink it myself. So making juice would be good practise and we surely wouldn't have a problem in drinking it all during the winter, if not even before that.
There are juicing stations in the city where they squeeze fresh juice out of the apples with reasonable price. But it would feel a bit stupid to go to those with only one plastic bag. Most Finns make berry juices with a steam-based home juicer called mehumaija, but those things cost and require a lot of space all year long. So I did a bit of googling and realised the oblivious: you can do juice just by boiling the apples on a normal cooking pot and then filtering the result. That worked out quite nicely. I also added some rowan berries I picked from the nearby forest with the apples since they are often mentioned as a well-balanced combination. Plus, rowan gives the drink a fresh orange colour.
Just wash your apples and chop them into chunks. Remove the bad parts but don't bother to peel or remove the seeds since that way you're only going to waste precious apple flesh. Fill your biggest cooking pot and add enough water to just about to cover the apples. Cook for about twenty minutes, mashing the apples after they've got soft enough. Filter the bits and pieces with a cheesecloth, or with a regular sifter like I did to achieve a cloudier result with more fruit flesh. Press the mash until there's only a little bit of it left and discard the rest. Before bottling, make sure your bottles are well cleaned and preferably sterilized.
If you leave the juice untreated you have to freeze it or drink it right away. If you have too many bottles for that like I did, you need to add either sugar or preservative. I don't like my juices too sweet and sugar would also limit the ways I can use it in cooking, so I added some benzoic acid and sodium benzoate mix meant for this purpose. If you'd rather go with the sugar option, use 300–400 grams per litre.