Apple cider. Apple pie. Apple cobbler. Applesauce. If you have an abundance of apples, it almost seems like your options are endless! Apples are a super popular fruit for homesteaders, for good reason! Plant a couple of trees and you have enough apples for yourself and to share – for life! Plus, they are just so tasty!
Deciding what to do with your apple crop can seem a bit daunting – especially since there are so many varieties that are suited for different purposes.
We have several hundred apples on our Alaska U-Pick farm and I just love hearing what our customers do with their freshly picked apples – they have some great ideas! I’ve included some customer ideas as well as our own family favorites in this article.
It’s best to know your apple varieties and what they are best used for. Some apples are best for fresh eating, some are excellent for storage, and others do best when made into pies or sauce. There are too many apple varieties across our nation to list each one, but if you know your variety, you can easily google it – or better yet – ask a farmer! They will likely share the background of the apple, what it’s best used for, and they may even share a recipe or two!
Here are some ideas for you if you have apples in excess this year.
To save apples for fresh eating, they should be stored in a cool, dark place. A refrigerator is okay or a root cellar or even a cool spot in your house although if it’s not cool enough, the apples will start to spoil more quickly.
Fresh apples are yummy with popcorn, peanut butter, or even with cheese! They are also really wonderful baked on your wood stove with a bit of cinnamon sugar. You know what they say about an apple a day …
Preserving Freshly Picked Apples
One major advantage to canning anything made of apples is that all recipes are safe for a water bath canner. That means no fancy or special equipment is needed (although the Amish water bath canner that processes 15 quarts or up to 36 pints at a time is pretty tempting!!).
Everyone loves a good apple pie – and you can process your apples into apple pie filling and either freeze it or can it so it tastes fresh and it’s easy to whip up a pie when you want it. Besides pie, you can use apple pie filling for cobbler, yogurt bowls, on ice cream, and even warmed as a side dish with pork chops.
Apples that get soft quickly are often perfect for applesauce, apple butter, or dehydrated apples. Making applesauce is super simple as I show in this video. You can even make a small batch with just a few apples if you don’t have tons extra. Dehydrated apples (aka apple chips) are wildly popular at our house and I just simply cannot make enough of them. They are also super simple to make and you can add variations to them. You can slice and dehydrate plain, you can add cinnamon sugar, or even everything bagel seasoning to your apple chips for fun and different snacks.
Apple cider is also a wonderful treat! We got a cider press this year after just one pressing party, we know we have a brand new family tradition. It’s incredibly fun and satisfying. We invited neighbors and friends and it was such a great experience!
After our cider pressing party, we had a whole wheelbarrow full of apple scraps. I used what I could to make apple cider vinegar and gave a bunch away so others could make some, too. I was genuinely surprised at how easy it is to make! And it’s awesome to use every single bit of the apple!
Having the right equipment for processing apples makes the job go much more smoothly, and it’s a whole lot more fun! My dad always said that having the proper tool for the job is important – and that goes for processing food, too! Things like an apple peeler/corer, a food mill, canning jars and lids, and a pie plate, of course!
An abundance of apples is a blessing that can be enjoyed for several seasons to come. What do you do with your freshly picked apples?