Apples are now in season! Remember the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Apples are high in vitamins, minerals, and of course fiber, and naturally low in fat and calories. Other health benefits associated with apples include relieving constipation and benefiting the heart.
With so many different varieties of apples available at excellent prices, especially when bought in bulk, at this time of year and with so many different recipes using apples, I thought we would focus on creative and delicious ways to cook and bake with apples, even gift making! Dried apple slices can be used for wreath making, and applesauce can be used for scented homemade Christmas ornaments.
Apples are great for much more than a great snack or apple pie. Apples make fantastic fruit leather, spicy apple sauce, steaming sweet and succulent baked apples, succulent fried apples, salads, breads, smoothies, butters, pies, cakes, what have I missed?
Involving your children in what you are doing in the kitchen is such a great learning experience and opportunity for them. Be patient with your “little helpers” and take advantage of these rich teachable moments and memory-making opportunities. Allow some extra time to get the jobs accomplished and you will have some very happy children who are acquiring new skills and enjoying the confidence of a task well-down.
When my son was only four years old, he could stand on a stool and crank the apple peeler for hours as we peeled a bushel of apples for the dehydrating trays. When he had just turned fourteen and we had just moved to a new home, he insisted that our apple sauce making tradition must carry on despite all the incomplete unpacking and other chores associated with moving.
Stephen was a huge help to me, a real labor saver for a weary momma who had not only just moved but lost her oldest daughter (right arm) to college attendance! I surely never regretted the few hours set aside to fill the jars with homemade applesauce. Now that he is in college, my sister says he is “spoiled” because he doesn’t really care for watery tasteless applesauce. I say we are all blessed to appreciate real food from my own kitchen.
Truthfully, I have never regretted the time spent canning, drying, baking, and freezing seasonal produce or other homemade goodies, nor has anyone in my family scolded me for lovingly preparing food from basic ingredients. Homemade is always better tasting, better quality, more cost effective, and much more enjoyable than any commercial equivalents.
One year, I discovered a handy gadget that peels the apples efficiently and effectively in seconds called an Apple -Potato Master by Back to Basics. This handy gadget, has a fork device to hold the apple in place and then as you or an eager child crank the handle, the peel is cut in a spiral pattern while the core is removed. Voila, peeled, sliced apple in seconds, and it is so easy to use your four year old can actually help do this!
1 egg, beaten
1/4 Cup oil
1 C applesauce
1/2 Cup honey
1-3/4 C. whole grain pastry flour
1/2 tsp. soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 C. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/2 C. raisins (optional)
Mix egg, oil, honey and applesauce in a small bowl and set aside. Assemble the dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir to evenly distribute spices and leavening into the flour.
Combine liquid ingredients into dry ingredients with a wire whisk gently. Carefully fold in nuts and raisins if desired and avoid over-mixing the ingredients. Fill oiled or lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.
Applesauce Cake with Crumb Topping
This moist quick, and easy cake can be made for special occasions or even snacking cake!
1/2 Cup oil or melted butter
3/4 cup honey or 1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup applesauce (Can substitute 1 cup pureed apricots (drained) I use homemade sauce
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Combine all ingredients (except crumb topping) in a medium mixing bowl or in a mixer set on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Pour into a lightly greased 9 X 9 pan or 9 X 13 inch pan. Sprinkle crumb topping over the cake batter. Bake at 350° F for 25-35 minutes or until cake springs back when touched in center or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly.
6 TB sugar
3 TB butter
3 TB flour
3 tsp cinnamon
Combine these ingredients well in a small bowl before sprinkling over the cake batter.
APPLE AND FRUIT SALAD with CREAMY YOGURT DRESSING
This easy recipe is perfect when pears and apples come into season. Don’t worry if you have all the fruits, just use what you have available.
2 fresh apples peeled/chopped
2 fresh pears, cored and chopped
1/2 cup seedless golden raisins
1/2 cup broken pecan pieces
1/2 cup yogurt
2 TB honey, warmed
1/2 tsp cinnamon,
Add fruit, raisins, and pecans to dressing mixture. Chill thoroughly before serving. For more color - leave skins on apples and pears.
“ A fantastic, quick way to pack maximum nutritional value in a shake to satisfy hunger, and meet energy needs throughout the morning. An ultimate convenience whole food”
1 ripe frozen banana, broken in pieces
1 Cup coconut milk, or kefir, or plain yogurt
1 Cup orange juice
small handful of pecans, if desired
1 small apple, cored, and peeled
1-2 TB honey or maple syrup, optional - taste first before adding sweetener
2-3 cubes ice, optional - for thicker smoothie
Using chilled ingredients, blend ingredients in a blender until smooth.
9 to 10 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
Place everything into a crockpot. Stir, cover and cook on high 1 hour. Cook on low for 9 to 12 hours or until thick and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. Stir with whisk until smooth. Refrigerate or Freeze. Makes 2 pints.
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 Tbsp. honey or brown sugar
(These amounts are per apple.)
For each person use 1 apple. Fill the center of the apple with all the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees until tender or put in a Dutch oven on top of stove and simmer on very low heat until tender, about an hour. Or do this the old-fashioned Girl Scout way and bake wrapped in foil outside over coals.
We always have a hot-out-of-the oven apple crisp as soon as apples come in. The smell alone will transform your home!
6 tart apples, peeled and sliced (Hand cranked Apple peelers save so much time!)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange apples in well-greased, 9 X 9 square baking dish or glass pie pan. Blend all remaining ingredients except water.Crumble evenly over top of apples. Pour water over the topping. Bake 45 minutes, or until apples are tender and top is crisp. Serves 6.
For many more apple recipes consult, Simply in Season Recipes that celebrate fresh, local foods in the spirit of More-with-Less by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.