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“As American as apple pie”?

That’s the expression, but we dispute the exclusive claim to apple pie! The Dutch are renown for their ‘appeltaart’, and here at Zenders, we have spent the last few months perfecting our recipe and ensuring it is always on offer in the cabinet – it is our single most popular item. If you have Dutch connections, you probably remember that appeltaart your Oma made - the flavour is one of sweet nostalgia with hints of cinnamon. While we may not be able to make it just like EVERYONE’S Oma, ours surely approves, and hers is one of the best. No, really!

My memories of appeltaart takes me back to the orchard on the farm, where it was always a race to beat the sheep to the apples that dropped from the tree, along with the peaches, plums and pears. We loved climbing the trees to throw down buckets of rich sweet fruit, which my parents the spent hours peeling and bottling to make coveted desserts of preserved peaches, appelmoes (applesauce) and stewed plums. The reward for ‘running down the back’ to the storage cupboard was to be allowed to choose which bottle of fruit to have with ice cream, or for on our breakfast. When we were expecting visitors or mum had time, she would throw together one of her appeltaarts which we all loved. With ten of us children, there were never any leftovers!

We've spent the last few months perfecting our appeltaart, and we think it's pretty good!

March is harvest time, meaning preserving was a full-time job in between milkings, hay and silage making. Nothing could be wasted, neither time nor produce! A bucket of beans picked meant mum (now ‘Oma’) would take us to the school pool so she could ‘top and tail’ them while she watched us swim. She would take them home, blanch them and pop them in old bread bags. Our freezer was full of vegetables from the garden which my father tended between or after milking. We were never short of silver beet, tomatoes, carrots, beans or sugar snaps. Years later, when he was retired, it was one of my children’s favourite things to do – walk with Opa out to the vege garden, where he would wash off a freshly dug carrot or snap peas and beans off the vine. He always had a pocket knife on him, and would peel an orange on the go, dropping the peel in the grass.

When I had my own children, we had an apple peeling machine which had a handle that was turned to make a long twirl of peel. Each of my four children had to do ten apples after school, during the TV ad breaks, meaning I ended up with 40 peeled apples. With ten in each bottle, that made 4 bottles of appelmoes while I cooked dinner.

And so the tradition continues, and the smell of apple and cinnamon tug at the heartstrings as well as the saliva glands. How about stopping in for a taste of your childhood next time you’re in Hamilton?

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