It’s apple season in the South.
From u-picks to roadside stands, it’s hard to resist picking a peck (or 10) of crunchy sweet Romes, Arkansas Blacks, Honeycrisps and Winesaps.
With seasonal, local apples boasting a sweeter, crisper and more mouth-watering flavor than their imported grocery store cousins (not to mention how much FUN it is to pick them yourself), it’s nearly impossible to resist overindulging in the moment -- until you unload the car and apple-picker’s remorse sets in. What are you going to do with all these apples?
We’ve got you covered with 10 easy and delicious ideas to fuel your apple-obsession.
1. GRATE APPLES INTO MEATLOAF
Meatloaf can always use a hint of sweetness and extra moisture. Grated apples provide both—with no added sugar or fat.
To apple-up your meatloaf, grate a half or whole unpeeled apple into the mixture and combine.
For a nice finishing touch, try mixing some tangy lacto-fermented applesauce (recipe above) with your favorite premade BBQ sauce for dipping.
2. Whip up a quick no-cook apple, mango, carrot sauce
This super-nutritious apple veggie sauce is rich in vitamins A, C and K; B-Vitamins; fiber; antioxidants and enzymes.
Your blender does all the work (a high speed blender like a VitaMix or NutriBullet is helpful but not essential), and this recipe requires ZERO cooking.
No-cook Apple, Mango, Carrot Sauce
Core and cut 3 apples into large chunks. Leave the skins on for extra nutrition and flavor.
Peel and chunk up 1 mango (you can use rehydrated dried apricots too).
Peel and grate 2-3 raw carrots (if you have a picky eater err on the side of less carrots).
Add the juice of 1 lemon, a little lemon or orange zest (optional) and a pinch or two of cinnamon to taste.
Blend for 2-3 minutes scraping down the sides as-needed, until the mixture is beautifully pureed (if you need more liquid, add some water, orange or apple juice).
3. Make probiotic applesauce
We covered the simplicity and health benefits of lactofermentation in a previous post, but who knew this technique could be used on apples?
Cultures for Health offers an easy step-by-step recipe for making your own lactofermented applesauce that will keep in your fridge for 1-3 months.
No canning required.
The flavor is a bit tangier than traditional applesauce, but it tastes REALLY good. The longer you let it ferment the tangier it will become, so if you prefer a sweeter sauce allow it to ferment for just one day.
Chef’s note: the recipe calls for whey, and the way to get whey is by straining some plain yogurt and collecting the cloudy liquid. That’s your whey.
4. Make your own apple-infused vodka
Appletinis are delicious, nostalgic (for us 30-and-40-somethings), and... loaded with sugar, dyes and artificial flavors.
Why not make a healthier cocktail by infusing your own vodka?
It’s so easy you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. And it makes a great holiday gift.
DIY Apple-Infused Vodka
In a glass jar with a tightly fitted lid, combine a 1.5 liter bottle of your favorite vodka with 2-3 apples washed, cored and sliced. Or use the chips from 1 dried apple (see Oven Apple Chip recipe below).
Let the vodka infuse 1-2 weeks.
Strain and enjoy!
If you’d like to, add spices like cinnamon, ginger or cardamom. Just be sure to remove them after a couple days or their flavor will overpower the apples.
5. Freeze them
Yes! Forget canning, you can freeze apples to use later in breads, pies, cakes or even smoothies. They will be a bit mushier but fine for baking or making sauces.
Get the how-to scoop here:
6. Make festive apple votives
I am hopeless when it comes to designing any type of table décor or centerpiece, but homemade apple votives are truly easy to make.
Just take a nice red, green, or yellow apple, scoop out the top third with a spoon, pop in a tea light candle (scraping more out if needed) and repeat.
Line them up on a decorative plate with cinnamon sticks, pinecones and citrus slices, place them on a nice cutting board for a rustic look or float them in a crystal bowl with star anise for a stunning centerpiece.
Quick, easy and foolproof.
7. Make apple chips…without a dehydrator
Many of us shy away from drying our own fruit because we think it requires a special dehydrator.
Fortunately, you already have a perfectly good apple dehydrator sitting in your kitchen…your oven.
Here’s how to make your own apple chips.
Oven Apple Chips
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Wash and core 3-4 apples and cut into thin slices (you can use a mandolin or a very sharp knife).
Pop the slices into a mixture of ½ cup lemon juice and 2 cups water to prevent browning while you finish slicing.
Let the slices sit in the lemon water for 20-30 minutes.
Remove apple slices from the liquid and pat dry.
Spread apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for 1 hour for soft-dried apples, or 2 hours for crisp-dried apples.
Store in an airtight jar at room temperature for 1 week or up to 1 month in the fridge.
These are delightful mixed into trail mix, baked into a pie, cake, or muffins, or eaten as-is.
8. Eat them before meals and lose weight
You’ve likely heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. As it turns out, a few apples a day could help you shed unwanted pounds.
The nutrition science suggests that because apples are rich in fiber they help you feel full and can prevent you from overeating.
The apple-weight-loss theory was made famous by registered dietician Tammi Flynn, who discovered that when her clients consumed an apple before every meal they lost an average of 17 pounds over the course of 12 weeks. She documents the details of her diet plan in “The 3-Apple a Day Plan” book.
If you have a few pounds of apples to go through (and a few post-summer pounds to lose), why not try it for yourself?
9. Whip up a delicious chutney
Chutneys are not just for Indian food. They are delightful served over baked brie, slathered onto sandwiches, as a grilling sauce, or given away as a homemade party gift.
They’re also super easy to make. Check out this simple Apple Chutney recipe plus how-to tips on preserving the chutney for up to 3 years.
10. Make your own apple facial pack
Believe it or not, companies and spas charge big bucks for apple-infused facial products.
Apples are rich in wrinkle-fighting antioxidants, skin-smoothing fruit acids, collagen-boosting Vitamin C and blemish-fighting B-Vitamins.
For a super-luxurious DIY facial pack, mash up a few pieces of apple with 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon ground oats.
Slather onto clean skin and leave for 15-30 minutes.
Remove with a paper towel (you don’t want to clog up your bathroom sink), rinse skin and pat dry.
Your skin will feel toned, fresh, soft and supple.
Seasonal apples are as versatile and nutritious as they are fun to pick.
With all these apple-inspired ideas for preserving, eating, gifting, crafting and beautifying, you can take full advantage of your local apple orchard and pick-a-peck to your heart’s delight.
What clever ways do you use up the season’s apple bounty?