We are slowly reaching the limit to our apple tolerance. I have to say, the list I have of apple recipes for my apple harvest is a long & complex one…but to be honest, everything is turning out to be pretty much the same thing: apples, sugar, & cinnamon. Although the ‘Joy of Cooking’ cookbook recommends pairing apples with sausage, pork, or ham and complementing them with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon & orange zest, vanilla & almonds…it appears to me these are THE quintessential ingredients that go with apples.
Nonetheless, I continue my adventure…as long as we have apples, we eat apples! I decided to try out poaching and the first thing I learned was that fruit should always be ‘poached’, not ‘stewed’ – that, my friends, cost me some of my apples…as I dropped some too early into the simmering process only to find them turned to mush! Poaching is a delicate thing and should be regarded as such: drop the fruit into a simmering liquid, in our case a syrup, just until the fruit is barely tender. Key instruction: remove the fruit from the heat immediately so it will not continue to cook & get mushy, or set the pot in a sink of cold water. Apples & other hard fruits should be poached in a thin simmering syrup and be quickly removed, otherwise you’ll basically end up with applesauce!
In Honduras, we enjoy a many variety of poached fruit. We actually refer to the delicacies as en miel, or ‘in honey’. These are typical desserts during the weeks leading to & after Holy Week, and many different specialties are offered to enjoy the much needed break, the religious festivities, or the local tourism that comes with both. We usually use rapadura (unrefined whole cane sugar), which is a solid form of sucrose derived from the boiling and evaporation of sugar cane juice. Healthier than refined sugar, it’s still sugar, but adds a unique touch to any syrup!
Among the most popular fruit varieties prepared in this tradition, I can name a few local ones that might interest you all: Jocotes/ciruelas en miel, mango en miel – the all-time favorite, coyoles en miel (no idea how to translate these!), plátano en miel (plantains!), ayote en miel (squash/pumpkin), nances en miel, papaya en miel, duraznos en miel (peaches), higos en miel (figs), rosquillas en miel, and the famous torrejas en miel, which are basically poached French toast! Inspired by all these delicious sweet treats, I decided to try out some simple & sweet poached apples with my harvest this year.
For the Poached Apples
- 4 cups of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 piece of ginger, approximately 1″
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 lime, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
- 10 small apples
Combine the water & sugar in a large saucepan, and add the cinnamon sticks, ginger, vanilla extract, & lime zest. Set the pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the syrup to your desired consistency. Using rapadura will give your syrup a brownish color, try it! Peel the apples; I used the baby apples from my apple tree, they were a lovely bitesize serving size! Add the apples, raise the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring the fruit frequently, until tender when pierced with a knife, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the fruit to a serving dish or a storage container, or remove the fruit to a dish or container & boil the syrup down even more until reduced by half, then pour it over the fruit. Whatever you do, don’t leave the fruit in the hot syrup! Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled!