Is it possible to have too many apples? It’s been a bumper year for apples on our Ohio homestead. We’ve made enough applesauce for ourselves and our extended family, shared some apples, and they still keep coming. Fortunately, there are lots of other great ways to preserve this versatile fruit and enjoy eating it all winter. Here are a few delicious solutions to try.
Drying apples is the easiest way to preserve them. Simply core, cut them into quarter-inch-thick slices and lay them out on trays in a food dehydrator. You don’t even have to peel them. Let the dehydrator run for 8-12 hours, checking the apples every few hours to see if they’re dry. Then hide them quickly, or they’ll be devoured! (Or store in an air-tight container.) Don’t want to dry your own? Try our crispy apple chips – the work’s done for you!
Steam juicing is another easy way to preserve apples. Wash and quarter the apples, fill the steamer basket, and let them steam for about an hour. Then remove the juice and process it. Apple juice can be frozen or canned.
Apple Pie Filling
Another great use for apples is homemade apple pie filling. Here’s a great recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Stocking your shelves with canned pie filling makes it easy to throw together a gorgeous homemade pie in just minutes. Apple pie filling also makes good ice cream topping or pie iron treats for summer camping or winter fireplace cooking.
If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a cider press, this is a great way to use up extra apples, especially the “seconds.” You’ll be rewarded with the freshest and best cider you’ve ever had. Cider can be frozen for later use.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Making traditional apple butter can be time consuming, but with a crockpot or slow cooker, it’s a snap. Just add apples, sugar and spices to the crockpot, cook on high for an hour, then simmer on low for 9-11 hours. (Your house will smell unbelievable.) See recipe below (adapted from food.com). Spread on fresh homemade bread, and enjoy! This recipe also freezes well.
- 5 1⁄2 lbs apples, peeled and finely chopped (use your favorite variety or a mix of different apple varieties)
- 4 cups sugar (less if you like a more tart apple butter)
- 2-4 teaspoons ground cinnamon (depending on your taste)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- Place chopped apples in a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt.
- Pour over apples and mix well.
- Place in slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 1 hour.
- Decrease heat to low; cover and cook on low for 9-11 hours or until thickened and dark brown.
- Stir occasionally.
- Uncover and cook on low for 1 hour longer.
- If desired, whisk until smooth.
- Spoon into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space.
- Cover and freeze. Can also store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Lisa Amstutz is a freelance writer and editor. She lives on a six-acre hobby farm with her husband, four children, and a menagerie of small livestock. Lisa is co-author of Local Choices and author of 40+ nonfiction picture books. Visit her online at http://www.LisaAmstutz.com.