From Orchard to Oven: Cooking with Freshly-Picked Apples

September 9, 2023
Crate of apples

The joy of apple picking! Michigan Fall Bucket List item number one: Head to your nearest apple orchard on a crisp fall day and pick apples to your heart’s content. You spend the afternoon wandering rows of trees, gently plucking beautifully ripe apples from the branches. While apple picking is certainly high on my list of favorite fall activities, it’s something that requires a bit of planning ahead. If you’re wondering what to do with your pickings, I have some great, easy recipes to use up all those apples…

APPLE SAUCE

Ingredients: 

  • Any amount of apples you have on hand, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Apple Juice 
  • Ground cinnamon

Directions: 

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  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.

apple sauce with red apples

APPLE SKILLET

Ingredients: 

  • 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 into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Directions: 

  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 over the top 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 warm with vanilla ice cream.

APPLE NACHOS

For a quick, no-bake option, Apple Nachos are a great way to snack on your apple pickings. This recipe is pretty customizable, as you can pick any toppings you prefer, but these are some of my favorites.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 apples, sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Toppings:

  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts

Directions: 

  1. Toss the sliced apples in lemon juice to prevent browning and layer around a plate.
  2. Pour caramel sauce over sliced apples.
  3. Drizzle chocolate chips and peanuts over the apples.

You could make many different combinations for your apple nachos, perhaps by adding melted peanut butter or chocolate sauce on top, or having different toppings like mini marshmallows, other kinds of nuts, or other small chocolate candies. 

APPLE TURNOVERS

Ingredients: 

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions (you can make your own, but store-bought makes this recipe a little easier)
  • 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour for dusting
  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/3″ pieces
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, remove the puff pastry from your freezer, and thaw according to instructions while preparing the filling.
  2. In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the diced apples, stirring occasionally until softened.
  3. Reduce to low heat and stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Simmer for three minutes until the apples are soft and caramelized. Remove the apples from the heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Dust your surface with half of the flour. Use a rolling pin to flatten the first sheet of thawed puff pastry into a square. Cut the sheet into 4 equal-sized squares. 
  5. Place the cooled apple mixture over half of each square, leaving a half-inch border. 
  6. Beat together the egg and water, then lightly brush the egg wash on the edges of the pastry. Bring the edges together and use a fork to crimp and seal the edges of the turnover. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for the second sheet of puff pastry.
  7. Transfer the turnovers to a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between each. Cut a small slit at the top of each turnover. Brush the tops with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden to your desire. 
  8. Stir together the powdered sugar and whipping cream to create a glaze of your desired consistency, and drizzle over top of the turnovers while they are still warm. 

APPLE BUTTER

Apple butter is a thick, delicious spread that can be used in 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.

Ingredients: 

  • 5-6 pounds of apples cut into 1-inch pieces 
  • 1.5 cups of brown sugar 
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

Directions: 

  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. 

This article has been updated to include new information. The original article was authored by Katie Goncalves.

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