Apples and the crisp fall days of October seem to go hand-in-hand and that is no surprise since this is the month that apples are harvested. Drive by an apple orchard and you can smell the tangy, sweet odor of apples in the air. Often the smell is so strong you can literally taste the apples without taking a bite. These are the apples you want to use in fresh apple recipes, to preserve and the ones that have the most health benefits.
Apples are high in antixodents, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. The fresher they are, the better they are for you because as apples age their nutrient value decreases just like other fresh fruits and vegetables. This is why growing your own or driving to a pick-your-own apple orchard is better than buying apples that are already picked.
The ways to use fresh apples are endless. Make homemade apple pie or apple crisp. Fry apples or bake them. Make applesauce, apple cider or simply eat them fresh. Don’t forget to put some up for winter use. Apples keep well in a root cellar, but if you don’t have one, can them, dehydrate them or freeze them. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on your chance to stock up on plenty of fresh apples.
Here are some great recipes to use fresh apples in. Below the recipes you will find instructions on how to preserve apples for winter use.
Everyone loves apple pie – and the best apple pie is made from scratch with fresh apples, high quality cane sugar and lots of nutmeg and cinnamon. Sometimes I make my crust from scratch and sometimes I buy a pre-made crust, it really just depends on the mood I am in. Here is my favorite apple pie recipe. If you have an abundance of apples, you can make extra filling and can it. This is a real time saver during the holidays or when unexpected company arrives.
- 6 cups apples – use a variety of apples
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon – I use the liquid cinnamon I make myself
- Dash freshly grated nutmeg
- Dash ground sea salt
- 2 tablespoons real butter
Peel the apples if you wish.
Slice the apples into quarters and remove the core.
Place the apple slices and the sugar into a stainless steel pan.
Cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. This usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Pour the apple mixture into the pie crust making sure to throughly scrape the sides of the pan.
Dot the top of the apples with butter and sprinkle a dusting of powdered cinnamon on top.
Cover the outer edges of the pie with aluminum foil or a pan designed to keep pie crust from burning.
Set the pie on a cookie sheet, then place it in the oven.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes.
To make an apple crisp, follow the instructions above for the pie, but top it with this crumb topping before baking it.
- 1/2 cup maple sugar – or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 4 tablespoons real butter
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter. (For those who do not know, cutting in simply means pressing the butter into the dry mixture until it is the size of small peas. It just breaks the butter up into tiny pieces and coats it with the mixture.)
Once the butter and flour mixture is the size of small peas, add the chopped nuts and mix well.
Using your hands, spread this mixture over the top of the apple pie.
These fried apples are an ideal side dish for pork recipes. You can use an alternative sweetener and light butter if you prefer.
- 1 tablespoon real butter – I make my own butter using cream from our goats
- 9 apples, peeled, cored and sliced into wedges – again, using a variety of apples gives this a different taste.
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon – I add more to suit my tastes
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Melt butter and brown sugar in a skillet.
Add cinnamon and apples.
Bring the mixture to a boil while constantly stirring.
Turn the heat down so the mixture continues to simmer.
Put a lid on the skillet.
Allow the apples to cook at a simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure to stir them occasionally.
Storing Apples In A Root Cellar
Storing apples in a root cellar is simple compared to the other methods of storage. The reason for this is because you store them whole, just like you picked them. It is important to check on them periodically, because as they say, one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.
Pack apples in between layers of straw and store at 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Store them in tight lidded barrels that are mouse-proof. Some people store them in the open in a single layer and others put them inside of plastic bags that they have poked holes in.
Once you find a method that works for you, it is best to stick to it.
How To Can Apples
I prefer to can apples even though it is more work in the beginning. I have canned them with and without peels. Most people peel theirs before canning, but it is really up to you what you do. If you don’t mind the peels, don’t bother removing them.
There are many recipes for canning apples and I think I have tried them all, however, a friend said to me one day that canning apples in a plain syrup was the best way because they can be used for anything. I thought about this and decided she was right. Once you can apples for a specific purpose they may have an ingredient in them that makes them unsuitable for another use, so now I can all my apples using a light syrup. Here is my recipe.
Combine sugar and water in a stainless steel pan.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce the heat to low so the syrup remains warm.
Fill clean, sterilized canning jars with apple quarters. Be sure to run your fingers around the tops of the jars before using them to check for tiny nicks. If you find any, those jars are no longer useful for canning.
Cover the apples with the water and sugar syrup you just made. Leave 1/2 inch air space at the top of the jar.
Wipe the top and edges of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.
Put a clean, sterilized, new lid on the jar, add the band and screw it down until it is fingertip tight.
Process both pints and quarts for 20 minutes.
Turn the heat off under the canning pot once the 20 minutes is up.
Remove the lid, but allow the jars to sit under the water for 5 minutes longer.
Carefully remove the jars. Set them aside and allow them to cool overnight.
Remove the bands and check the seals by gently prying them with your fingertips.
If the jars are sealed, replace the bands, label and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
If the jars are not sealed you can either select a new lid and attempt to seal the jars again or put the food into your refrigerator and use it up.
How To Dehydrate Apples
Dehydrated apples make great snacks. They are good to put in cereal as well. I have not tried to re-hydrate them to use in any recipes, but I do know it is possible. Here is how I dehydrate apple slices.
Wash, peel and core apples.
Slice the apples into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Put the apple slices into an citric acid mixture. This helps prevent discoloring and helps preserve the fruit. Citric acid is available in most grocery stores or places where they sell canning or dehydrating supplies.
Dry at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 3 hours. The time varies considerably, so check the apples periodically.
When they easily break in half, they are done. Turn the dehydrator off. Allow the apples to cool. Pack into an airtight container if possible. If not, put them in a canning jar in a cabinet or into a freezer bag and freeze them.
How To Freeze Apples
Freezing is the next best thing to canning when it comes to having something on hand that is fairly quick to use. The bad thing about freezing is you should thaw the food before using it, although sometimes you can bypass that step.
Wash, core and quarter apples.
Soak them in citric acid as you work.
Place the apples in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Remove the apples and place them in ice water. Gently stir the apples to help cool them.
Once the apples are cool, remove them and lay them out on paper towels placed over cloth towels to drain.