4 Autumn Harvest Recipes (Apple Butter, Pear Sauce, Chutney, Crumble)

   reading time: 5 min

Hello my fellow homemakers! Have you ever spent half the day cooking and preserving like a mad woman (or man) to build up stocks and share a freshly cooked warm meal with your family? Well, I have recently! And today I'm going to share them with your as well – four home-cooked autumn harvest recipes that included hand-picking some of the fruits, and then batch-preserving them.

I hope you find some yummy comforting recipes in here, or at least feel inspired to get into preserving yourself!

The Joy of Preserving

Over the past few months I've talked repeatedly about the perks of foraging for food in the "wild", with some of my favourites being the Himalayan Balsam jelly, the wild garlic nettle strudel (and anything nettle, haha), the wild herb & garlic butter, and the vegan blueberry cheesecake crumb cake (although that one is technically not really wild-crafted, but rather harvested I guess).
There is a joy to foraging and preserving your food. The simplicity of it. The involvement of your hands that work in an almost meditative state. The fragrance of jam or chutney or stew simmering on the stove.  
– You are literally preserving the feeling and smells of autumn! –

Not only is preserving very rewarding, knowing that all the work you put in will result in a bunch of delicious meals or even a well-stocked pantry that will get you through the winter months. It also slows you down, and grounds you. Or at least that's what it does for me.

Hand-picked, homemade food is pretty much the most "sustainable" and "zero waste" you can go in terms of eating, especially when it's homegrown or wild food as well. It is the definition of slow food, and a wonderful way to connect with nature and all the abundance surrounding us.

There are many preservation techniques out there, such as drying, fermenting, pickling, freezing, juicing, infusing, and canning to preserve your food for the months to come. So far, I am mainly focussing on recipes that require the food to be consumed relatively soon after it has been harvested and processed, such as in the form of a crumble or bread or relish or pesto or homemade applesauce or pear sauce, like in today's blogpost.

Speaking of which.

The four recipes I will share with you today are easy to make, and relatively quick. I did spend a good six hours total in the kitchen that day, and we had even hand-picked some of the pears (they are from my mum's garden who harvested most of the pears herself and also collected these apples in her neighbourhood – the plums were harvested by my fiancés aunt!) – and at the end of the day I was quite exhausted from all the work in the kitchen, but also felt very accomplished and pleased with my work. And at least I got to eat a warm plum crumble
afterwards with melting vegan ice cream on top, yum!


Preparation time: 1 hour 30 mins
Main ingredients: apples, sugar, apple juice
difficulty level: easy
makes: 3 cups
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free, fat-free


1 kg (2 lbs / 9 cups) unpeeled cooking apples, washed, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
250 ml (1 cup) apple juice or apple cider (or 125 ml apple cider vinegar with equal amount of water)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
100 g (3/4 cup) raw cane sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar (or 1/2 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates; this doesn't preserve as well as sugar though)
1 tsp fresh or dried orange zest
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp chai spice mix or gingerbread spice mix
pinch of salt

- medium-large saucepan with a lid
- clean, sterilized glass jars with screw-on lids


Place chopped apples to a medium-large saucepan, along with apple juice / apple cider. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-high. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and fluffy, and part of the liquid has boiled away. Remove from the heat.

Using an immersion blender (or transferring the apples to a blender or food processor once slightly cooled), blend the apples until smooth.

To the pureed apple mixture, add sugar and spices as well as lemon juice. Return the apple sauce to the stove, and cook on low for another hour or so, until the sauce thickens and caramelizes to your liking.
If the liquid evaporates to quickly, you may need to add another splash of apple juice or water. To prevent the mixture from sticking to the saucepan, stir frequently with a wooden spoon at 5 to 10 minute intervals. Be careful: The mixture is like lava, it suddenly bubbles up in sudden bursts and is very, very hot! To be safe, remove the saucepan from the hot plate before stirring.

Once the sauce is reduced to a thick butter-like sauce, remove from stove.

Transfer the velvety smooth hot apple butter to clean, sterilized jars and seal immediately. Store in the refrigerator once opened, and use within 2 to 3 weeks, or freeze for a couple of months.

Enjoy your spiced apple butter with oatmeal, rice pudding, toast, crumpets, yogurt, or pancakes.

A lovely variation on this recipe would be to replace the apple juice / cider with 50 ml elderflower cordial mixed with 200 ml water.



Preparation time: 45 minutes
Main ingredients: pears, cinnamon, vanilla extract
difficulty level: easy
makes: 5 to 6 cups
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free, fat-free, sugar-free


1.5 kg (3 lbs / 8 cups) organic pears, washed, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (or use a mix of pears and apples)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

(optional) 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

- medium-large saucepan with a lid
clean, heat-sterilized glass jars with screw-on lids


Place cored and diced pears into a medium-large saucepan. I leave the skin on because it has a lot of flavour and nutrition that I don't want to miss out on, but you can also choose to peel the pears.

Without adding water, place over medium-high heat, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer, and cook until soft – about 20 to 30 minutes. Stir every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking and burning at the bottom. Add a splash of water if necessary.

Once the pears are tender, add ground cinnamon and vanilla. Optionally, you may also add nutmeg and lemon juice. Puree the pear mixture using an immersion blender until smooth. Alternatively you can transfer the cooked pear mixture to a stand mixer or food processor to process, once the sauce has cooled down. If you prefer a chunkier sauce, mash the softened pears with a potato masher.

While still hot, transfer vanilla pear sauce into clean, sterilized jars, and seal.

Store in the fridge, and use up within a week. Or store in the freezer for a couple of months.

Enjoy with oatmeal, rice pudding, or pancakes (in other words: use as you would applesauce). Since this recipe is sugar-free, it also works great as homemade baby food!



Preparation time: 1 hour 20 mins
Main ingredients: plums, apples, onion, sugar, balsamic vinegar
difficulty level: easy
makes: 4 to 5 cups
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, yeast-free, low fat


500 g ripe plums, halved and pitted
1 apple, peeled and chopped
400 g yellow onions or shallots, chopped
30 g
fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
2 tbsp olive oil
300 ml balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
200 g raw cane sugar or brown sugar

50 g raisins or cranberries
1 tsp garam masala (or just use ground cinnamon instead)
seeds from 3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 chili pepper, minced, or 1 tsp cayenne pepper

- medium saucepan
clean, heat-sterilized glass jars with screw-on lids


a medium saucepan, combine oil, chopped fruit, onions, and ginger. Add vinegar, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and, whilst constantly stirring, sauté for about 10 minutes until the fruits and onions start to soften.

Next add the sugar, raisins, garam masala, cumin, crushed cardamom seeds, salt, and finely minced chili pepper. Give everything a good stir, and bring to a slight boil over medium heat. When it just starts to bubble, turn the heat down to low and simmer until thickened, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Your chutney is ready once the fruits and onions are soft, and it is thick and syrupy. If you prefer a smoother texture, mash everything with a potato masher or even blend for a few seconds using an immersion blender.

Remove chutney from heat and carefully p
our into sterilized jars while still hot. Seal immediately. Leave to cool completely before storing in the fridge or a cool, dark place. Stored that way, it keeps for up to 6 months sealed. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within a month.

Very similar to my redcurrant and red onion relish, this chutney is delicious spread on crackers, sliced baguette, rice, mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, or paired with our nutty lentil loaf.

TIP: For gifting you can make this well in advance as it ages so well. The longer you let it sit in the jar the tastier it gets. I'm actually bringing one of my jars for our Christmas dinner this year!



Preparation time: 45 mins
Main ingredients: plums, oats, hazelnuts, apples
difficulty level: easy
serves: 4
suitable for: vegan, lactose-free, wheat-free, soy-free, yeast-free


800 g ripe plums, halved, pitted and cut into wedges (obviously, this can be substituted with other seasonal fruits such as berries, cherries or apples)
1 small apple or 1/2 regular apple, peeled and grated
2-3 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp raw cane sugar, coconut blossom sugar or brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon (Ceylon is best)
(optional) 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
(optional) 1 tbsp rum     

80 g rolled oats, ground
40 g ground hazelnuts
1/2 cup spelt flour (I use type 1050; or sub gluten-free flour)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil, cold
4 tbsp maple syrup

- baking dish or cast-iron skillet


Preheat oven to 375°F or 190°C.

For the filling:

In a large mixing bowl, toss together sliced plums, grated apple, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. If you like, also add in nutmeg and rum. Stir. Spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish or cast-iron skillet in an even layer.

For the topping:

Using the same mixing bowl from mixing the filling, combine ground rolled oats, ground hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the vegan butter and using a pastry blender, cut in the vegan butter into the mixture. Add maple syrup and stir with a fork. Gently press the mixture together using your clean hands, until it begins to stick together and form small pea-size crumbs.

If the mixture is too dry, add an extra spoonful of butter. If the mixture is too soft, add an extra spoonful of flour or oats.)

Scatter the crumble on top of the plum mixture and press down gently.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25–35 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling around the edges and the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm topped with ice cream or custard, if desired.

Leftovers will keep at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 3 days.