Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anybody have any good apple preserving recipes?

I have a problem with apples.

Or rather, it's not so much a problem with apples themselves.  Apples are delicious, especially when covered in sugar and cinnamon.  (And also by themselves because nutritious and healthy and goodforyou and all that, blah, blah, blah.)

But apparently I overdid it with the apples at a recent trip to an orchard.

Adele and I went on a field trip with her school to Hinton's Orchard, a local orchard that is full of lovely people and delicious fruits and vegetables and baked goods and homemade peanut butter.

And pumpkin patches.

We go there every fall, and also bug the owners at random farmers markets throughout the year because my husband loves to talk apple trees and I love to buy herb plants.  Super nice, amazing people.  Go there if you get the chance.

Usually Chris is with me during our annual fall apple buying extravaganza and he reigns in my crazy a bit.  But this year it was just me and my girl so I came home with two bushels of Mutsu seconds.  (Two bushels for $28.  A ridiculously good price.)

I don't think it's a secret here that I like to make things from scratch and to preserve food when I can.  So the apples were destined for applesauce and apple butter at least.  I started out well last Friday - peeling, coring and chopping a ton of apples while I watched last year's The New Girl on my kindle.  But I didn't even get through half a bushel.  I did get about 5 or 6 quarts of applesauce though.  (Not nearly enough.)

My applesauce recipe isn't really a recipe at all.  I prefer the apples without any added sweetener or spice.  I put the peeled and chopped pieces in a large pot with little bit of water, maybe a half a cup, to keep everything from sticking, then cook over medium heat until mushy.  Maybe an hour or so.  (It's a really big pot so it takes awhile.)  Then once it's done I let it cool, put in jars and put the jars in the freezer.  I could can them but it's much easier to freeze.  I don't puree the applesauce because I like it chunky.  The texture of pureed applesauce is too much like baby food for me.

I used the apple peelings from the applesauce to make apple peel jelly using this recipe.  It was a giant failure.  Or rather, maybe it became more an apple syrup than jelly.  I tried to use the natural pectin from the peels, but something went wrong.  I think maybe I cooked the juice too long?  And now that I'm looking at the recipe again, I'm not entirely sure I used lemon juice.  Woops.  So I have a thick, sticky substance in my refrigerator that tastes apple-y.  We put it on pancakes and it worked fine as long as you ate it before it cooled.  Once cooled it was a bit too thick, almost caramel.  So maybe it's apple caramel?  I should probably dip apples in it.

After the applesauce I made apple fritters.  Make this recipe.  You will not be sorry.  Easy, delicious fried dough.  The kids wouldn't eat them (WEIRDOS) so Chris and I ate them all.

Then there was apple butter.  I doubled this recipe.  It worked fine - hours and hours in the crock pot, then I pureed the result and put it in jars then in the freezer.

Once again I couldn't bring myself to throw out the peels.  It just seems so wasteful, you know?  We do compost, but there's so much stuff left on the peels!  So this time I attempted apple peel cider using this recipe/guideline.   Not much has happened yet but I have hopes.  I am trying to use the wild yeast that's on the peels, but it may be that I have to use some yeast that my husband has from his own beer/cider making.  We'll see.

I've also made apple dumplings using this recipe.  Do you know how difficult it was to find just an apple and dumpling recipe that didn't include soda or canned bread?  I just wanted cooked apples with dumplings on top - like chicken and dumplings.  In hindsight I should have called my parents.  My dad makes awesome blackberry dumplings.  I wasn't too keen on the one recipe I did find.  Or rather - I wasn't too keen on how it turned out.  I think I may have overcooked the dumplings, which was entirely my fault.  The kids refused to try them because they are insane.

Last night I made an apple crisp which was delicious and just what I wanted it to be.  I used this recipe, which was simple, thank goodness.  I did add a quarter teaspoon of salt to the topping because otherwise it would have been too bland.  The salt balances out the sweetness.  Apple crisp is one of my favorite desserts, and this didn't disappoint.

That finished off the first bushel of apples.  Keep in mind we are all eating them fresh, too.  And I still have a whole bushel to go.

My future apple plans include apple pie, of course.  And maybe canned apple pie filling.  Definitely more applesauce.  Maybe a couple of whole pies to freeze.  More apple crisp.  Another attempt at apple jelly.  Possible more hard cider.  And dried apples.  We also like to put apples in salads, lest you think that we are all subsisting on apples, sugar and cinnamon at the moment.

Guys.  I love apple season.

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