tart wild thing: wild apple crisp

Last night, just after dusk, I heard a pack of coyotes howling. It’s such a classic call of the wild – first the high-pitched yipping – then the howls. Then the dark silence, as though it never happened. Except it’s so haunting that the sound stays with you a while – lingering on – giving you just the slightest sense of unease.

This morning it was the wild geese. They’re gathering on the river just beyond my house. Every fall they do this. They congregate for days until, I presume, they reach some critical mass, when they take off and head south in their classic V-formation.

Wild seems to be a theme in my life just at the moment.  Things are a bit wild – a bit messy and out of control – too many deadlines – too much on. I’m overwhelmed. Even my misuse of hyphens seems to have become a little more wild than normal. 

The week before last, I took my youngest daughter on a road trip.  We drove up north, passing hundreds of wild apple trees laden with fruit. Every tree we passed looked better than the last. Eventually because they were irresistible and because I love foraging, we stopped and picked a bag full. I took them home and tested one to make sure it was a cooking apple. It was – it fell almost immediately. These apples are tart and tiny and full of flavour.

We made them into a tart wild apple crisp. It’s like autumn in a dish. Serve it with a little maple syrup. Perhaps some whipped cream. And if you haven’t got wild apples – just use regular tart apples – or whatever other wild tart fruit you can get your hands on. But find some wild ones if you can.

baked wild apple crisp

Tart Wild Apple Crisp

8 cups sliced, peeled tart wild apples (or use a variety of apples, pears, blackberries, cranberries, etc.)
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter (or vegan margarine)
1/2 tsp salt

Lay the fruit in a lightly greased glass baking dish. Try to avoid the temptation to toss sugar on it. It won’t need it.  Mix together the flour, sugar, oatmeal and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Scatter over the fruit. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until the fruit has fallen and the topping is nicely browned. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Or even better, just pour the maple syrup to it.


19 thoughts on “tart wild thing: wild apple crisp

    1. Hi Jessica! Elly helped pick the apples – and get this – she drove us to the Bruce Trail where we picked them. The crisp was so good. I used way too much butter. Then we drowned it in maple syrup. YUM.
      So glad we saw you this summer. Hope your semester is going well. xox

  1. I’m intrigued, how do you test an apple to see if you can eat it? I have never foraged, and would have thought all apples would have been edible, The ones you picked are just beautiful as is your crisp. It makes me happy that autumn is around the corner!

    1. I think you can eat all wild apples Suzanne – but only some will fall when you cook them. I tested it by cutting an apple in quarters – then dropping it a little boiling water in a saucepan to see if it would soften. Some never do soften. Some fall tender almost immediately – and then you know – you’ve got a cooking apple!
      And yes – autumn in upon us here. The coyotes howling and the geese flying south are a sure sign of that.

  2. You had me Googling, again! It’s a crumble! I didn’t realise the same desserts/cakes are known as something else. Have to say they’re one of my all-time favourite desserts. And it’s just getting cool enough at night here to make ’em! Now to find that thin custard recipe. It’s on my HD somewhere.

    1. Yes – you’re right! Of course! 😉 Technically the difference is that there are no oats in a crisp and there are oats in a cobbler. But, I don’t know – it feels like an apple crisp to me somehow. And yes, would be so nice with custard but it’s tart enough that just pouring pure maple syrup on it was pretty fantastic.

  3. Sounds like a wonderful place to live! Every year in September, over a period of a few days, hundreds of swallows gather on the wood pylon next to our house and I look forward to it every year 🙂 Thank you for the wonderful post and delicious recipe.

    1. Kenley – I always LOVE hearing from you. Thank you! It’s already apple season here – last night along my walking trail the wild apples were all over the ground already – almost finished. And the coyotes – oh Kenley – you would not believe their howls – achingly beautiful. And a little frightening too…
      Lindy xx

      1. I love hearing the coyotes too. We have several here that howl and I especially love it when the pups are young and they try to howl to mimic the adults but it comes out sounding hilarious (and less frightening, hehe).

  4. It does sound like you have been experiencing the wild side of nature and in a nice way. Your wild apples look good and I’m sure your crisp was delicious. You see wild apple trees all along the roads here in New England.

  5. The wild howling of coyotes … that sends shivers down my spine. Actually can’t remember if I ever heard it live, but just the thought of it. But I can definitely remember foraging for wild apples cos I just did it a few weeks ago. There was a huge apple tree behind a gas station with hundreds of apples, so tempting! I’m surprised nobody would pick them, so I did. Don’t worry, I asked first. 🙂

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