Seasonal Recipe Round-up: Apples

Apple season is one of my favourite times of the year.  Right now, I’m lucky enough to live in a house with a yard full of apple trees, but even when the seasonal bounty is not quite so close to home, it’s amazing to be able to find so much free, delicious fruit around town.  Depending on how big your harvest is, you may just be able to eat all you pick, but if you’re lucky enough to have a surplus of apples, I’ve collected some rad looking recipes for drying, canning, fermenting and otherwise preserving your harvest.  If you have other recipes or techniques you’d like to recommend, please leave a comment! 

Canning apple pie filling and applesauce:  Laura from Food.Love.Happiness has put together some great recipes for a simple applesauce and a tasty looking apple pie filling.  Both recipes give a pretty big yield and could be easily scaled up if you have a ridiculous amount of apples.  I’ve never tried canning apple pie filling, but I love the idea of just opening a jar and plunking it into a pie crust on a cold winter night.  Applesauce is great to put up because it’s so easy to make, you can vary the spicing and sweetness to make different batches and it can be used in so many recipes.

Chunky apple-ginger jam:  A friend of mine made some intensely gingery and intensely delicious apple ginger jam last fall — since then I’ve been dreaming about apple ginger goodness.  Her recipe involved making a ton of ginger juice, which is pretty totes laborious.  This recipe uses candied and ground ginger for a way easier route to a similar flavour.  Another bonus of this recipe is that it uses the peels from the apples to make natural pectin, so no need to add any commercial stuff.

Apple pectin stock jelly:  If ginger jam is not your thing but you’re still interested in making your own pectin, this recipe from Culinarea Eugenius is a cool one to experiment with.  It looks pretty simple — you just boil down the fruit (peels, guts and all), strain it out, and boil it down.  You can use the resulting pectin to make a really simple apple jelly (the author says it’s better for glazing and cooking with than just plonking right on your toast), or you can use it to set other jellies or jams.  This recipe works best with underripe fruit, so it’s a great use for green apples that you might otherwise struggle to use.  The author suggests using Transparents, which sounds like a solid choice if you happen to have access to them.  One of the trees in our yard is a Transparent, and the apples are not very good for eating but go bad so quickly that I hardly have time to sauce or juice them.  Maybe next year I’ll try some pectin instead.

Apple-cabbage kraut:  This recipe from Commiskaze is a mega simple ferment, inspired by Sandor Katz’s stripped down sauerkraut instructions in Wild Fermentation.  You basically just chuck some cabbage, some apples, some salt and some caraway seeds in a crock, pound away at it, and let it do its thing.  This would be a great fall recipe for folks who don’t have a lot of time to fuss with canning, and sauerkraut is an easy and approachable way to start experimenting with lacto-fermentation.  If you put apples directly into your kraut, as with this recipe, keep in mind that it won’t have the same uber long shelf life as a strictly cabbage kraut, but it will be so delicious that you likely won’t have any problems eating it a bit faster.

Apple Chips:  I liked this apple chip recipe from The Frugal Kiwi because it’s simple and flexible.  The person making it was attempting to make dried apple rings in the oven, but forgot about them and fell asleep, only to wake up to delicious apple chips.  I don’t necessarily recommend leaving major appliances on while you’re dozing, but I do enjoy recipes that remind you that cooking is improvisational and more flexible than we sometimes think.  Dried apples in any form (from chewy to chippy) are a good reminder of this notion.  They’re easy to make and easy to tweak — you can use different dehydration methods (oven vs. dehydrator vs. sun), different spices, and get very different finished products depending on what you’re going for and how narcoleptic you are.  Give them a try — they are easy and delicious!

Apple Cider Syrup:  This recipe is from Food In Jars, so you know it will be boss.  Marisa suggests using it as a concentrate for making hot apple cider or heating it and pouring over pancakes, both of which sound like pretty life altering suggestions.  Some of the comments on the recipe also suggest tossing it with apple slices before putting them in a pie or cobbler, using it to deglaze a pan when cooking savory stuff, or using it to replace a bit of the vinegar in a salad dressing.  Basically, this sounds ridiculously good, and I’m planning to set aside a couple of hours to run some apples through our juicer with this in mind as an end result.

Apple cider vinegar:  If you’re into fermentation and live foods, you might enjoy experimenting with apple cider vinegar.  The recipe I’ve linked to from Whizbang Cider shows you how to make vinegar when starting from apple cider, and I recommend checking it out even if you don’t have a juicer or a cider press, as it has great photos of the whole process.  You can also start vinegar with apple scraps if you don’t have access to cider, as with this recipe from Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking.  As with many fermented foods, cider vinegar involves a tiny bit of effort and a fair bit of inactive time, which can be great for this time of the year.  Sometimes I start to feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of canning/preserving/freezing/whatevs that needs to be done in the autumn, so it’s good to have some recipes that you can get started on quickly then happily ignore for a few months.

Apple recipe collection:  If you’re more into eating some fresh apples right now than working on preserving, The Kitchn has a really good round-up of apple recipes.  They range from delicious sounding versions of classic recipes (apple yogurt cake with cinnamon sugar streak, for example) to less classic but equally tasty looking recipes like the apple-kale soup pictured here.  The brown rice salad with apples, walnuts and cherries sounds rad, as do the apple gouda oatmeal cookies (I was a bit weirded out by the concept at first, but apples and cheese are an undeniably excellent combo).

Tips for salvaging less than perfect apples:  Finally, if your apples are not exactly supermarket-worthy, don’t despair, as they’re still more than likely totally usable!  This is a great article about how to sort through less attractive apples to figure out which ones are still edible and how to quickly and easily get rid of the nastier bits (bruises, bugs, worms, y’know, all the gross stuff).  A good reminder that preserving the harvest is not all canning jar glamour shots — it’s important to not neglect the less photogenic parts of the work.

I hope some of these recipes were inspiring for you, and I’d love to hear about what you’re doing with your apples this year!

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