I have a lovely crab apple tree in my yard. It was once one of those with a profusion of pink blossoms. After it died back and came up from the roots, I let it regain its former size. The results are mixed. Many of the flowering fruit trees are grafted and the rootstock is something other than what you see above ground. Now I have a crab apple with white blossoms and mid-sized apples. When they are red and ripe they are about the size of a plum. I can just let them mature and fall to the ground but this creates new problems. The little tree is so prolific that untended, it will likely break and split under the load of fruit!
To relieve the burden on the tree, I pick off a large number of the green apples that I can reach. I don’t spray the remaining apples resulting in a certain amount of waste. Finally the day comes in August when I may as well pick off the remaining apples. This year that resulted in about 7 gallons of small apples. They are so small, that I find it tedious to peel and core them and yet there is so much food value that I hate to waste them.
Likewise, my tomatoes that bear early enough to escape the frost are often small and require more handling. For both of these undersized fruits, I make sauces.
For the apples, I sort and quarter them. Once they are boiled down they easily press through a Foley mill and I have sauce. I prefer to add sugar and seasoning and continue cooking the sauce to make apple butter. This year even with the small size, culling and boiling down, I have 20 pints of apple butter. I think of it as gifts that I can give.
The tomatoes also make sauce. Again the size of the tomato doesn’t matter for my strategy. The process again begins with boiling down of fruit. If you don’t mind seeds in your sauce, try washing and de-stemming tomatoes and running them through the blender before cooking. This saves having a lot of skins and seeds to discard and also the time involved in pressing the cooked tomatoes. Once blended I cook them to the desired consistency along with seasonings.
You can use undersized sweet fruits for making jam and jelly. For small plums, as an example, you can simply remove the pits first and no further cutting up will be needed. If your fruit does not measure up due to weather or other factors, consider options where you can omit peeling and other time consuming processing steps. Consider using a blender or Foley mill. A final product of sauce, butter, jam, or jelly will have the same great taste as what can be had from full-sized fruit.
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