5 Things to Know About Apples
this way to the applesThat’s right. With our grocery stores, farmer’s markets and local orchards currently overflowing with apples, it’s good to be educated and brought up to speed, right? So here we go. Apples apples apples!
1. Picking your own apples is awesomeWhether you have an orchard within day-trip distance, or one you can stop into for an hour enroute to somewhere else, heading into a farm to pick your own fruit is a great experience, especially if you have kids with you. We try to do apples every fall, and also strawberries or other berries in the summer. Lots of farms have extra fun activities for kids. But to me there’s value just in participating in farm-to-table food, way beyond what can be learned from books. So grab a friend, take some kids, take your camera and pick yourself some apples. I promise you it’s fun.
Check your local apple ripening schedule like this one to see what’s currently available. Apples are still ripening into November in Ontario.
3. Choosing an apple peelerWhat kind of peeler do you use? Do you use it because you always have? Or did you research and compare and then choose your favourite? I use this kind just because I always have…
do you know any old wives’ tales about peeling an apple in one piece?…but many chefs are strong proponents of the “Y” peeler. I don’t know, it doesn’t seem like something I could easily change and I would start spending hours doing the peeling because I wasn’t used to it. What do you think? Or are you super professional and old-school and use a paring knife? Wow, you’re talented!
2. An apple a day…keeps the doctor away, right? Apples have invaded the English language with idioms and expressions. How many can you think of off the top of your head?
Any of these....?
* the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree * apples to apples *
* a bad apple * the Big Apple * the apple of my eye *
This one is my dad’s favourite..
how ‘bout them apples?
well, how about ‘em? I dunno!
3. The fastest and safest way to chop an appleI don’t know about you but I’ve chopped a lot of apples in my life. It seems like kids just started being willing to eat whole apples and then they were having wiggly falling out teeth, and next thing you know they’re wearing braces and not allowed to eat whole apples again. So you might as well learn how to be fast about it, right? And if you’re teaching your kids to do it themselves, this is the safest way to chop apples (or really any round fruits and vegetables).
first way:These little gadgets are handy, and work if your apples are fairly small and pretty perfectly shaped. Personally I’m very bad at catching the whole core on the first try, and I feel like the cutting edges get dull pretty quickly. Still I keep mine in the drawer and use it once in a while.
second way:On the other hand, if your apples are too big to fit inside the cutter, or are lopsided in any way, or you’re un-coordinated like me…get out your big chopping knife and do it this way. You’ll chop your way through a gazillion apples in no time without your fingers being in harm’s way.
best way to chop applesSee how you keep turning the flat cut side down so the apple is stable, and you just keep turning the flat side down and the knife stays in the same spot, cutting the next edge. It works like a charm, trust me. You’ll be super-speedy and you’ll have your kids making their own apple slices in no time.
4. Crock pot apple butterThis was on my bucket list this fall and I had seen instructions all over pinterest for making it in a crock pot. I found a recipe I liked (big batch, brown sugar instead of white) and tried it. Sure enough it was just as easy as the recipe promised and it was delicious. Apple butter for breakfast, posted to instagram, success. So then some of you were asking for the recipe and I said yeah, sure. I went back to my pinterest link and it was broken! What the what? Now what am I supposed to do? So I started recipe testing which is really not my thing, but anything for you. Plus then I had some to give away at Thanksgiving so win-win. For my American friends…you still have time to do the same!!!
crock-pot apple butter
Here’s what I used:
9 apples of various kinds and sizes, peeled and chopped; 1 3/4 cups brown sugar; 2 teaspoons cinnamon; 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves, nutmeg and saltMix everything together in the crockpot and cook on low for approximately ten hours. The longer you leave it in after ten hours the softer and smoother the mixture will become, but too much longer and it will start to burn and stick to the sides. That may or may not have happened to me in the course of recipe-testing.
Mash the contents of the crock pot with a fork or potato masher till it’s smooth. It will be a bit watery and many instructions call for leaving the crock-pot on with the lid off to let the liquid evaporate. But I refer you to the burning and sticking comment above. I scooped out all of the mixture into a sieve and let it drain till I was happy that the consistency would be spreadable. About half an hour. If you forget about it and it drains too much and gets dry you can easily mix some of the liquid back in. May or may not have happened to me.
this is how much it makes
It’s delicious on toast, pancakes and waffles. But also on fun on graham crackers, or fancy on a baked brie. Keep it in the fridge to use yourself, or package it with pretty labels to give away. Everyone will think you’re a gourmet genius. Which you are.