Does the word that just popped into your head show up here? Find out:

02 January, 2011

Spiced Apples

On the last day of the farmers' market, I picked up 40 pounds of apples. Got a pretty good deal (36 bucks), but still not good enough to make cider that wouldn't have a hint of regret on my cheapskate palate. Most of them are just my winter supply of fresh fruit.

Fresh-ish, anyway. They're winesaps, so they age well.

I'm aging OK myself, I think, and part of the process has been a nostalgia (next, I'll post on the vinyl aspect of this phenomenon). In this case, for a flavor, for those spiced apple rings that used to be served in steak houses. So a dozen pounds underwent the knife, guinea pigs in my attempt to retrieve a flavor that I may not even remember correctly.

Turns out, you can buy spiced apples, and they look like what I recall, but where's the fun in that?

Nowhere. The fun is in the ridiculous frivolous project. A couple of hours surfing, searching, sorting until deciding on a recipe that matches none of the listed ones exactly. Slicing and coring, trying to find enough containers to keep the growing pile of rings soaked in limey water to keep them from oxidizing. Stirring syrup and steeping the apples. Ladling and canning the results, trusting that a bath in boiling water would absolve the jars of my earthy earthly sins.

Research showed two paths to becoming lord of the spiced apple rings. Normally, I'd go for the more natural, but this being nostalgia for a time before I'd ever heard of granola, when space-age syntheticality ruled, and when I was a wee candy-loving kid, I went for the other, in which a key ingredient is red hots. Yep, those little cinnamony hearts. Anyway, a lot of people taking the 'natural route' advised using red food color, and I'd rather just go whole spam and avail myself of modern convenience in the form of red hots, combining the best in fake color and flavor.

I still used real cloves, because they are redolent of exotic islands. I was a big National Geographic fan back then. (Post-modernists popped the bubble of that particular joy, and I am down to a small collection of issues that are either very old or feature Polynesia. Oh, and a box o maps, just so I can prove that NG once knew about latitude and longitude.)

But I digress (to resort to what must be one of the most common blog phrases). You just wanna know if it worked.

Color-wise, not so much. Ergo the wildly exaggerated colors in these photos (thanks Mac). That's OK, since I am pretty sure the 'real' color depends on carcinogenic dye, and true nostalgia does not demand authenticity, maybe cannot even survive too much fidelity to reality. So I have pink rings. I sampled the not-worth-using-another-jar few, and the texture seems right (somewhere in that limbo between raw crunch and cooked mush). The flavor snapped a synapse back to life (causing the dust to flare briefly), and I think the red hots did the trick in that regard. But this being a quest for something I tasted so long ago, the wait must be prolonged a bit more. Let them soak, stand, and wait for my bite. I'll report back later. (Right. More likely, I'll forget I ever wrote this.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment