My son Nathan and his boys pickin’ apples in our orchard.
Got apples? I do! They are crisp and sweet and ultra delicious and healthy! But because we don’t spray them, very few are perfect enough to endure winter storage. Plus I always have plenty of ground apples from windstorms. Here’s some simple ways to put up apples without too much effort:
Wash apples and cut in fourths, removing the core. Do not peel. Fill a big cooking pot with apples (mix varieties for the most delicious taste) and 1″ water. Put a lid on and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until apples are tender. Ladle into a blender and puree. Blend until smooth or chunky. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon if you like. No need to sweeten. Pour into recycled cottage cheese or yogurt containers, leaving 1″ space for expansion when freezing. Write “Applesauce ”13″ on the lid, and freeze—you’re set. This is really sweet and delicious on whole wheat pancakes, waffles, to top baked custard or stir into plain yogurt!
Ready-to-Go Apple Slices
To prevent browning, pour 1/2 cup of pineapple juice, orange juice or a few tablespoons of lemon juice diluted in water into a big bowl. Or just dissolve a vitamin C pill in 1 cup of water—it works just as well. Wash apples and slice them right into the bowl, discarding the core. I leave the peels on because I don’t like too much work, and it really doesn’t matter: the finished dessert is just as scrumptious! Toss from time to time to make sure the juice coats all the apple slices as you are filling up the bowl.
Lift apple slices out of juice to drain and put into a labeled ziplock freezer bag. The juice/water in the bowl can be reused. Close bag, inserting a straw just before sealing and suck out all the air before sealing completely. It should look vacuum packed. Lay the bag down and flatten it so it will stack more easily in the freezer, and be the right thickness to put into a dish when preparing a dessert later. You don’t have to thaw the apples to use them, as they will thaw and cook in the oven. These bags are so handy to have in your freezer. Pull one out, remove the frozen apples slab to your pan and put a crust or apple crisp topping on it, and bake. You can also use frozen sliced apples to make a batch of warm applesauce at breakfast time to top pancakes!
If you are short on freezer space, put those apples on the dryer. You do have to peel these apples because the skins turn leathery and hard to chew in the dehydrator. So, this is more work, but here goes:
Peel apples and slice about 1/2″ thick. Slice across apple slices to make chopped cubes (or actually rectangles). Don’t cut them too small or thin or you won’t be able to pry them off the drying trays. They really shrink! Process in dehydrator until dry but pliable. Store in a glass jar and use to add to muffins, coffee cake, sweet breads, cookies, granola, etc.