Ten Ways to Use Those Fresh-Picked Apples

img_1873Fall is here and with it comes the once-a-year opportunity to pluck fresh, sweet apples of all kinds right from the trees. Outside in the apple orchard the air is crisp and the sweet tangy scent of fresh fruit is all around. If your family is anything like mine, you’ll find it easy to get carried away there and end up driving home with a giant basket of apples wondering how on earth you’re going to eat them all…

Try these ten fun ideas to help you get the most out of your seasonal apple haul:

1. Core large crisp eating apples, such as Mutsu or honeycrisp, and slice them thinly “around the equator”. Use the discs as “crackers” for spreads like lemon or pumpkin hummus.

2. Core and slice apples thickly around the equator and use the widest slices as “bread” to make sandwiches with spiced nut butters, banana rings, and cinnamon, or deli turkey and muenster cheese slices with a bit of honey mustard.

3. Make a clean version of caramel apples with a raw, nut-based caramel.
Clean, Raw Caramel Apples

• ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes and drained
• ½ cup coconut nectar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup pine nuts
• ¼ cup raw macadamia nuts
• 6 small crisp eating apples, such as Pippins, Pink Ladies, Jonathons or Jonagolds
• 6 popsicle sticks
• Optional toppings: shredded coconut, dark mini-chocolate chips, cinnamon, raw cacao powder, crushed hazelnuts, roasted peanuts, etc.

To make the caramel, combine the cashews, coconut nectar, vanilla and salt in an industrial-strength blender, such as the Vita-mix, and blend on low power until smooth. Add the pine nuts and blend until smooth. Add the macadamias and blend until smooth, stopping to turn the mixture over with a spatula, if necessary, to keep it moving. Transfer contents to a shallow bowl and rest in the fridge to cool completely.
Press one popsicle stick carefully into the top of each apple. When the caramel has cooled, roll each apple in it to partially coat, or spread it over the apple’s surface using a butter knife.
Coat the caramel with any combination of the optional toppings and carefully stand the apple up on a sheet of waxed paper. Store the apples in the fridge until ready to eat to keep the caramel firm and set.

Yield: 6 caramel apples

4. Add thin slices of apple to regular ham and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches –great with a sharp cheddar.

5. Core and chop a softer cooking apple, such as a McIntosh or Empire, and steam in a small saucepan with 3 tablespoons of water and 7 whole cloves for a few minutes until just-tender. Drain and enjoy as is, over yogurt, or as a side for leftover roast chicken.

6. Shred Gala or Cortland apples (their flesh doesn’t brown as quickly as many other varieties), toss with a sprinkle of lemon, lime or orange juice to slow oxidation, and add to homemade coleslaw or toss into a green salad with roasted nuts or seeds.

7. For an ultra-quick “baked” apple, peel a Fuji or Rome Beauty, slice in half and cut out the core. Sprinkle each half with half a packet of stevia and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Microwave for 3½-5 minutes until soft and let it rest for a few minutes. Top with a sprinkle of slivered almonds and enjoy.

8. Use a spiralizer to turn green apples into “pasta” for use under an Asian-style stir with chicken or beef fry in place of rice.

9. To make a simple apple sauce, chop and core unpeeled apples such as Jonagold, Cortland or Winesap (great for sauces) and place in a saucepan to fit. Add a few tablespoons (for 2-3 apples) to ½ cup (for 7-8 apples) of pure apple cider, a tablespoon or two of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a good sprinkling of cinnamon and a pinch of salt and stir well to coat the apples. Cover and heat to a simmer over medium. Reduce heat and simmer on medium low, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft. Remove from heat and mash with a potato masher or large fork. Sweeten to taste with stevia, palm sugar, or erythritol, cooking for a few more minutes to incorporate, and serve warm or chilled.

10. Finally, apples can be used to ripen unripe produce and to moisten dry baked goods. Apples give off ethylene, a natural hormone in gas form that accelerates ripening. Place an apple in a closed baggie with unripe bananas, avocados, tomatoes, etc., and the gas will speed the ripening process of the other fruits. Also, if your bread, muffins or cake have dried out a bit, enclose an apple quarter or half in the storage container with them for a few hours to help restore lost moisture.

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