Pick apples, then cook with them!

By: Katie Goncalves | September 12, 2022

Michigan Fall Bucket List item number one: head to your nearest apple orchard on a crisp fall day and pick bushels of apples to your heart’s content. You spend part of the afternoon wandering rows of trees, gently plucking beautifully ripe apples from the branches. Then the panic sets in: you’ve lovingly picked so many apples but you’ll never be able to use them all before they go bad. While apple picking is certainly high on my list of favorite fall activities, it’s definitely something that requires a bit of planning ahead. If you’ve ever experienced the swing from pure delight to overwhelming anxiety that comes with Michigan apple picking (looking at you, Honeycrisp), I have some great, easy recipes to use up all those apples…

Apple Butter

Apple butter is a thick, delicious spread that can be used in so many different ways. Simply spread on toast or crackers is delightful, or warm it up a bit and pour over vanilla ice cream for a tasty fall treat.


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  • 5-6 pounds of apples cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1.5 cups of brown sugar 
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 


  1. Place all of your ingredients into a slow cooker. Depending on your timing, you can do this overnight by cooking on low for 10 hours or on high for four to five hours. The apples will melt down and the liquid should be simmering. 
  2. Using an immersion blender, puree the apples in the slow cooker until smooth. Leave the lid ajar and cook on low for another two hours, or until thickened. Keep in mind the apple butter will continue to thicken as it cools. 
  3. Divide into storage containers and let cool before refrigerating. 

Apple Sauce

Some of my most wonderful memories of fall are making and eating applesauce with my grandma. I always thought it was so complicated, but it turns out it’s super easy to make. 


  • Any amount of apples you have on hand (I’ve made applesauce with as few as two apples and as many as several pounds) peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Apple Juice 
  • Ground cinnamon  


  1. In a pot, place your apple pieces and then add enough apple juice to cover the bottom layer of apples. Add the ground cinnamon to taste. I like my applesauce heavy on the cinnamon but you can do as much or as little (or none!) as you like. 
  2. Cook the apples on high and bring the liquid to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium and cover. Check the apples frequently, stirring each time. If the amount of liquid starts to get low, add more apple juice to the pot. You don’t want to burn the apples as they’re cooking. 
  3. Once the apples are soft and beginning to fall apart, you have a few options for how to make the applesauce. For a chunkier applesauce, mash the apples with a potato masher. For a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender. For a nice in-between texture, use a food mill. 
  4. Separate into storage containers and cool before refrigerating. 

Easy Apple Skillet 


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4-5 apples peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

For the crumble topping:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats 
  • 2 tablespoons of cold butter, cut in small pieces 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 


  1. In a small cast iron skillet, melt the butter on low heat. Then add the apple slices, arranging them so most of the slices are touching the bottom. 
  2. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon overtop of the apples. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the crumble topping, using a fork to crumble the cold butter into the oats. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. 
  4. Place the skillet into a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.