As the days and nights cool down and the fields begin to turn golden, it’s hard not to get excited for fall activities. Who doesn’t love pumpkin patches, hay rack rides, bonfires, a few pumpkin spice lattes, and apple orchards galore? But, after a day at the orchard picking apples (hopefully you joined us yesterday at Allen’s Orchard), what do you do with all those apples?
Well, I’m here to tell you! We have two large apple trees on our farm and the ground has been covered with falling apples. We can’t pick enough to keep up! There are more than enough for ourselves with even more to share. Our sheep even love the treat! After enjoying as many fresh apples as we can, I use them in a couple recipes that our family likes to enjoy year-round.
Apple Pie Filling
First, I always love to make a large batch of apple pie filling. It can be used for so many things! We use it all year for pies, crisps, apple-cinnamon oatmeal, and as an ice cream topping. It makes cute gifts, cures any sweet tooth, and makes the perfect, fast dessert for those last-minute guests. I use a recipe similar to this one. While it describes canning the recipe, you can also freeze it.
My favorite tips when freezing apple pie filling:
- Follow the recipe as directed, but mix the apples into the sauce, rather than into jars, at the end.
- Let the hot pie filling mixture cool.
- Ladle the filling into gallon Ziploc freezer bags, about 3-4 cups for a 9 inch pie.
- Place the freezer bag in a pie tin before freezing. It will freeze the filling in the shape of a pie, then you can remove and stack the fillings.
- You can take the frozen pie filling out and pop it right into a tin to bake for a pie, crisp, or even a topping for oatmeal or ice cream.
Applesauce & Apple Butter
After almost all the apples are used up, I make applesauce and apple butter. It’s great for partial apples due to bruises or bad spots, as it doesn’t need to have “pretty” apples. They just need to be chopped up!
- Peel and slice enough apples to fill your saucepan or crock pot. I find the bigger the better! Keep in mind that it’ll cook down to about half the original volume.
- I love simmering mine in a crock pot as I can essentially forget it for a while and let the scent fill my home, rather than having to remember to stir over the stove.
- I typically add a cup of water, a scant teaspoon of allspice, and a couple extra dashes of cinnamon for a crock pot’s worth of apples. You can always add more as it cooks, so it’s better to start with less if you are unsure how much spice you like!
- Depending on taste, I will add a quarter to a half a cup of sugar. Typically, I think the apples are sweet enough on their own, so I put in the least amount of sugar.
- Now, you just let it cook! Remember to stir periodically, more if you are doing it on the stove top.
If you like your applesauce a little chunky, cook it a little less. If you like it smoother or thicker, cook it a little longer. You can also consider running an immersion blender through it, which is what I do if my daughter will be eating it! Applesauce freezes or cans very well.
You can also leave it in the crock pot! Remember how I said the longer it cooks, the smoother and thicker? Well, eventually it thickens up enough that it begins to turn into apple butter! Apple butter is so good on toast, in oatmeal, on whole-wheat muffins, or zucchini bread. Again, it freezes or cans very well!
What are your favorite apple recipes?
Do you preserve any apples?
Have you ever learned how to can or would you like to learn?
We’d love to know!