Life Video

Forage: How to harvest local crabapples and turn them into a delicious dessert

Chef Shawn Adler explains why wild apples are an ideal ‘first forage’ and how to source them sustainably.

Chef Shawn Adler explains why wild apples are an ideal ‘first forage’ and how to source them sustainably

Anishinaabe chef Shawn Adler has been harvesting wild edibles since his mother first showed him how as a child. In each episode of Forage, he teaches us how to source in-season ingredients from our own backyards and sustainably forage them, before turning them into a delicious dish we can make and devour in our own kitchens.

When we think of apple picking, our minds typically go to the orchards that open to the public every autumn, but there are actually wild apples hanging in forests all across Canada, just waiting to be harvested. According to chef Shawn Adler, wild apples, or crabapples, are a great edible for any beginner forager to start with as they’re easy to spot, incredibly flavourful and a cinch to cook with. Check out the video below for his full guide to foraging crabapples ethically, then scroll down for the recipe that’ll turn your findings into a delicious autumnal dessert.

Chef Shawn Adler explains why wild apples are an ideal ‘first forage’ and how to source them sustainably. 3:40

Red Wine-Poached Crabapple

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Microgreens, for serving
  • Candied walnuts, for serving
  • Edible flowers, for serving

Preparation

Begin by peeling and each apple and coring with a melon baller. Set aside. 

In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar, pepper, star anise and red wine. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Add in the apples and poach until just tender. This will take roughly 20 minutes but each apple’s timing may be different depending on its variety and ripeness. Test doneness by poking an apple with a paring knife. 

Once the apples are tender, remove pot from heat and let cool at room temperature for 20 minutes or so. Then, place the entire pot with liquid and apples in the fridge and allow to cool completely or 1-2 hours or overnight. 

Once the apples have cooled you can prepare the filling. In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese and honey. Fill each apple’s hollow core with the goat cheese mixture. Plate on a bed of microgreens and top with candied walnuts and edible flowers.

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