So now that we've told you all about the great places to get fresh local apples in the area, it's time to talk about what to do with all that fruit! Of course you can just eat them as is, but if you find yourself with several baskets, or even a bushel, that's an awful lot of apple eating! Preserving your apples in various forms will give you lots of autumn goodness to enjoy all year and can help save you some money long term (think teacher gifts, etc).
We're very fortunate to have very close friends with an abundant apple tree and they let us have free reign to pick as much as we want in exchange for some baked goods and preserves from the fruit - it's a pretty sweet deal! We've been very successful using up all our apples this year and while it takes a bit of effort to cook, bake, freeze, and can them all, the results have been well worth it!
First things first, if you're going to be processing a lot of apples I highly recommend purchasing a peeler like this one:
It has been the difference between having a pantry and freezer full of delicious apple products, and me weeping in a corner peeling hundreds of apples by hand.
Also, if you're interested in canning apple sauce (recipe below) or apple butter and are new to canning, please refer to the Bernardin Home Canning website for details on what you need and how to do it safely.
Now on to the goods!
So far with our apples we have made 16 jars of spread including this Caramel Apple Butter. We doubled the recipe to give us 8 half pint jars and used half brown sugar and half white sugar for a richer flavour, as well as pumpkin pie spice instead of plain cinnamon.
We also made up 4 bags of apple pie filling for the freezer. Mix 6 cups chopped apples with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. Bag, seal (we use a vaccuum sealer), and freeze. Thaw and use in any apple pie or crisp recipe.
We've also made a batch of these Gingerbread Muffins but added some chopped apples, and we made this Apple Fritter Bread, again using pumpkin pie spice. These recipes both freeze well for if you want a quick thaw and eat baked good.
But the thing that my husband has been impatiently waiting for me to learn to make (for essentially our entire relationship) is apple sauce. I know it's such a basic item but his great Nan has always given him a pint of her homemade apple sauce at Christmas and it's one of his favourite foods in the world. Now that I'm comfortable with canning, I whipped up this super simple and delicious apple sauce and it was so good and incredibly easy! Not only is it tasty on it's own it's a verstaile ingredient that can be used in baking and cooking too.
Spiced Maple Apple Sauce
Makes approx. 8 cups
6 lbs apples (roughly 30 small/medium apples)
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Peel, core, and chop apples into large chunks. Place in a large pot with the other ingredients and bring it up to a boil over medium high heat while stirring. Turn the temperature down to medium low and simmer, stirring occassionally, until the apples are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Use an immersion blender, transfer to a food mill or regular blender, or mash with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached. Keep the sauce warm on low heat while you get your jars, lids and water bath canner ready. Process pint sized jars in a water bath canner for 15 minutes, turning the heat off and letting the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes before removing to a clean, dry towel on the counter. Let cool completely before rinsing off the jars and storing them in a cool dry place. If you don't want to can the sauce you could also store this in the fridge if you'll use it up quickly. You can easily halve the recipe as well.
Happy apple-ing everyone!