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Picking wild apples and my place in the world: an apple preserve

I am now an expert in stealing all those special moments just for myself, I try to set them in the day just like jewels, make them valuable and intense, though fleeting. I am almost over with the book, recipes are done – tested, photographed and written – and the Italian version is completed, now I’m going over everything again from the introduction, translating into English.

It’s fun and interesting because it’s like reliving everything again from scratch, flavours, surprises and people. I also discover new words every day: for example, I finally found the correct translation for my favourite herb, pimpinella, that apparently in English is salad burnet.

On Thursday I will finally fly to London to spend some time with my friends before the Food Blogger Connect, the unmissable event that has represented the highlight of my blogging life in the past three years. So in addition to the book, I have to pack my stuff – books, Mac, camera, some nice dresses and comfortable shoes, to move to London for ten days. I already know that I will do this last minute, as usual, trying to tuck the cheese and the salami – the most appreciated gifts – among my clothes. You’ll recognize me at the conference: I’ll be the gentle lady with a heady smell of cheese and pork… Thank goodness I leave in the afternoon on Thursday.

Usually there is a constant element in these special moments, special person: my sister Claudia. A fennel infusion, a project for the upcoming autumn, a joyride in the fields or a few minutes playing in the sun with our cat Wolf (he’s getting so cuddling and sweet, I don’t think I need to explain you why we would buy him a whole Atlantic salmon when he looks at us with his shimmering eyes… nope, we’d rather buy a mackerel, we support local fish).

In one of those moments stolen from the oh-my-how-many-thing-I-still-have-to-do pace we went looking for wild apple trees, because a few weeks before Claudia had tasted a delicious nutty cake made with wild apple preserve. We’ll talk about the cake in a few weeks, for the moment we needed the main ingredient, the tiny wild apples.

In an autumn shaded afternoon with a leaden sky and a bright rainbow in the distance we run in the fields behind our house searching for wild apples to preserve for the winter: we’ve been looking at them for several months during our walks, it was finally the right time to pick them.

In those moments, hanging in the balance on a roadside with my head up high among the branches of the apple tree, I realized once again that I had found my place in the world. I suppose it was the calm, the fullness of happiness, the intensity of the feeling of peace that made me understand once more that this was what I had searched for so long. Have you found your place in the universe? How did you understand that?

The tiny wild apples have the perfect shape of an apple, a thin red and green skin, a tart and slightly tannic pulp. They have an astringent taste when you bite into them, not very pleasant to eat, but with time and patience they turn into a thick honey scented preserve, perfect to be used in crostate and cakes later in the winter.

Wild apple preserve
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4 from 1 vote

Wild apple preserve

Course Preserve
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4 jars, 250 ml capacity
Author Giulia


  • about 2 kg of wild apples
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 300 g of raw cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split open


  • Wash the wild apples, cut them into quarters and remove every black or bruised part. Do not peel or core them, this is a natural reserve of pectin.
  • Put the quartered apples in a large pot, squeeze a lemon over the fruit and cover the apples with water.
  • Cook the apples with a lid over low heat for about 2 hours, until they are soft, so that can be mashed with a wooden spoon. It might take longer, in which case add more water.
  • Once the apples are soft, pass them with their water with a vegetable mill and spoon the amber purée in a bowl.
  • Weight the apple purée: I obtained about 1 kilo of fruit purée starting with almost 2 kilos of apples.
  • Transfer the apple purée back into the pot, add 300 g of raw cane sugar per kilo of fruit purée and a vanilla pod, split open.
  • Bring again to a gentle simmering on low heat, stirring constantly. After about 10 minutes you'll have a thick golden compote, with a dreamy scent of vanilla and caramel.
  • Pour the apple compote into sterilized jars and close tight.


Sterilization. Put the jars in a large pot and cover with water: bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes and then remove from the heat. Let the jars cool completely in the pan, then remove them from water. You can store them for several months in a dry, cool and dark place.
Tried this recipe?We love to see your creations! Snap a pic and tag @julskitchen and hashtag it #myseasonaltable!

I’ll be back on Thursday before flying to London with a ‘travel’ post. Happy Tuesday everyone!

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This Post Has 16 Comments
  1. This is a very beautiful entry. I’ve always loved autumn and the beginning of the apple season. Have a wonderful time in London!

  2. I can’t wait for our time in London next week! Last weekend I spend some time in an apple orchard, reflecting on life and taking picture of course. Lovely pictures, lovely story xxx

    1. I’m sitting in Sarka’s living room tight now! can’t wait to hug you, honey pie!
      I am curious to know what you reflected on, I want to listen to all your news! x

    1. Thank you Denise, I really need to work hard to finish it on time, but it’s really worth the time I’m spending on it!

  3. I love your blog! Beautifully atmospheric pictures and words….. and now it’s autumn again and I’m looking out for apples. By the way, you may have gathered that we call such little wild apples “crab apples” here in England 🙂

  4. 4 stars
    Thank you, Juls, for this wonderful recipe and story. Living in the States, applesauce is peeled and cored apples, sugar and cinnamon. Very boring! The vanilla bean is such an inspired choice. I will never make applesauce without it again. And, the rosy gold color the skins produce is so lovely. What a great recipe and experience!

    1. thank you so much Sara! i fell in love with the colour of this compote, too. Try it in a shortcrust shell with walnuts sprinkled on top… 🙂

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