Apples are extremely versatile, and I’ve been able to use them in many ways this year. Most of my work with apples is done now, although I do have two batches of hard apple cider in process still. I feel like they aren’t as versatile in jams and jellies (my favorite things to make and preserve) because apples don’t soften or break down as much as, for example, stone fruits when heated or macerated. I do have the Caramel Apple Jam recipe and Apple Cider Jelly, which definitely fill in this gap a little bit.
Many apple products require multiple stages of processing, with several things requiring cooking down to apple sauce, or pressing into cider first. You’ll end up with big batches of both these intermediate products before you end up with what you really want. Here’s a little flow diagram I’ve created to show how I’ve processed apples this year:
I don’t have a cider press , so the cider I get comes from the market. We don’t tend to eat apple sauce plain, so we create a lot of that and end up having to store big batches in the fridge while waiting for the next step in the process. This can be inconvenient on occasion, and often turns a simple recipe into a multi-night affair.
Oh, and boiling apple sauce can give you second degree burns if some of it splatters on your hand while you’re stirring it. Just saying.
Next year I’d like to experiment with some apple sauce recipes, to make it a more exciting product and encouraging us to eat it as-is, without needing additional processing steps. Mixing in other types of fruits and seasonsings (cinnamon?) may help with this.
Very fresh, crunchy, hand-picked apples are really a necessity when eating raw or making pie filling. After a week or more, depending on the variety, apples start to get softer and more mealy. When this happens I like to boil up a big batch into apple sauce where texture really doesn’t matter. Most of the apple chips I’ve made this year are with fresh, crunchy apples but I’ve heard that less-fresh ones work just as well in the dehydrator. Next year I may also try that as an option for using up old apples.
The biggest problem with apples and cider is keeping them out of your mouth long enough to use them in recipes. We end up buying apples in bags of 10-20lbs each, often a few of these bags in a single weekend when a good variety comes in. Cider is the same, we end up buying several gallons of the stuff at a time from the market (and a few cider donuts, to go with it!), so that we have a gallon or two for straight drinking and the rest of the gallons for making various products. I’m not complaining, of course. Apple season, with all the amazing ways to eat them, is one of my favorite times of the year.
- At least, I don’t have one yet. As soon as I have a few hundred dollars to spare, and enough storage space to hold a nice press for 9 months out of the year, I’ll probably get one. Don’t tell my wife I said that, because she would be pissed and say “no”.