From pies, cakes and cobblers, to jelly, juice and dumplings, few fruits are as versatile as the apple. And few are as good for you – low in calories, but rich in antioxidant phytonutrients, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and lots of other good stuff. With September being the start of apple season throughout much of the country, apples are particularly tasty and inexpensive this time of year.
My wife and I like to spend a Saturday every autumn at one of the pick-your-own apple orchards out in the Virginia countryside. It’s a fun way to spend a fall day and get the freshest apples possible at a great price. Sometimes we even stumble across a local apple festival, or apple-butter festival, or apple-pie festival, or apple-whatever festival. The Pickyourown.org website offers a nationwide directory of pick-your-own farms and apple festivals.
Here are two of the simple, economical and delicious recipes we’ll be cooking up with our apple harvest this fall:
Super-Simple Homemade Applesauce
Don’t like applesauce? You will once you try this easy homemade variety.
- 6 cups apples – Peeled (optional), cored, and cut into half-inch chunks
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- Sugar (optional) – white or brown, to taste
Stir apples, cinnamon, and salt together in a heavy saucepan and add the water. Cover, and slowly bring to a gentle simmer on the stove top. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes, or until desired consistency. I like mine pretty chunky. Taste, and if it’s not sweet enough (although it usually is plenty sweet without adding sugar) stir in sugar to taste, and simmer/stir until the sugar is dissolved. Honey can also be substituted for sugar.
Slow-Cooked Apple Butter
Break out the slow cooker to make a batch of this fall favorite. Start it in the morning, because it slow cooks for approximately 12 hours.
- 10 cups apples – Peeled, cored, and chopped medium-fine
- 3 cups sugar – white and/or brown
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Honey to adjust for sweetness
- Spray cooking oil
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon of any or all of the following spices depending on your taste: ground cloves, nutmeg, allspice, ginger
Spray slow cooker lightly with cooking oil to help with cleanup. Put apples in slow cooker. In separate bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, salt and any other desired spices. Combine mixture thoroughly with apples in slow cooker. Cover and cook for one hour on high, then reset heat to low and cook for approximately 10 hours more, stirring occasionally; mixture should be thick and dark brown. Taste for sweetness; since apples vary in sweetness, you may want to add honey at this point to achieve desired sweetness. Cook for one hour more, uncovered, and blend/whisk if you want a smoother apple butter. Can be stored covered in the refrigerator or frozen in plastic freezer containers.
I hope you enjoy the fall apple harvest as much as I am. Remember: An apple a day keeps the cheapskate away!
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