Valley Bounty, November 2, 2013: Apples
In fall and winter, apples can improve all kinds of dishes. Add chopped or grated apples to your morning oatmeal or pancakes, thin-sliced apples to your lunchtime grilled cheese, or chopped apples to a basic cole slaw. Apples make a good stuffing for squash and companion to sweet potatoes. Glaze a pork roast, or make a spicy lamb and apple tagine, or North African stew. And then there’s dessert! If you’re looking for apple inspiration, don’t forget this weekend’s Franklin County Cider Days.
This weekend is CiderDays, the 19th annual celebration of hard and sweet cider (and apples, too!). Events go on all weekend all over Franklin County.
Find CISA’s list of apple growers here.
You can add grated apples to any basic pancake recipe, or you can opt for fancy (but easy!) and try a puffed oven-baked apple pancake or dutch baby. When I use this recipe, I often double it without doubling the butter. Don’t worry about finding golden delicious apples, any kind is good here!
Apples are available from local farms through much of the winter. But it’s worth preserving some yourself, as well, because apples in all their many forms are delicious!
Dried apples: If you have a dehydrator, apples are easy to dry, and they are a great snack food, very popular with kids. You can do them in your oven, too. A peeler/corer/slicer gizmo is very handy. Most instructions suggest putting the slices in acidulated water (add a little lemon juice or cider vinegar) to minimize browning, but I find that whether I do this or not the apples turn a pleasant light brown color. I dry them until they are leathery and find that they store fine in glass jars at room temperature. You can also put them in the freezer and take out just enough to last a few days.
I just ran across this maple-sweetened dried apple chip from Berkshire food writer Alana Chernila. I’m looking forward to trying it.
Applesauce: In my family, we make two kinds of applesauce. Daddy’s sauce is sweet and chunky. He peels and cores the apples and cooks them up until they are soft, then adds sugar or maple syrup. You can add a little water or cider to the pot to help keep them from sticking in the beginning. Mama’s sauce is smooth, and usually only has apples in it, no sweetener or spices. I cut the apples in half, or quarters, cook until softened, and then put them through a food mill. You can use a simple, hand-held mill, or the “victorio squeezo” kind that clamps to your counter. Either applesauce freezes and cans well; directions for canning are here.
Apple butter: Apple butter is just applesauce that’s been cooked longer, until it is dark, flavorful, and spreadable. Often, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg are added, and it’s usually sweetened, but all of that is a matter of taste. It’s easy to burn apple butter, but cooking it in a slow cooker or in your oven can help prevent burning. Here are two recipes, one from the UDSA and one from a blogger, with instructions for canning. Note that sterilizing your canning jars is only necessary if you process the jars for under 10 minutes; since small jars of apple butter only need to be processed for 5 minutes, pre-sterilization is necessary.