The In-cider’s Guide to Apple Recipes
When the apple orchard or farmers' market challenges your apple-buying self-control, find inspiration right here. These are the best apple recipes to use up your personal bumper crop.
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Around Chicago, where I lived for 25 years, there’s a seasonal cottage industry devoted to providing world-weary city dwellers with a taste of bucolic farm life. Every September, apple orchards staff up with temp workers and pull out all the stops to make a U-Pick day trip to the apple farm into a one-stop shop for entertainment in the field. There’s been a bit of an arms race between farms to provide ever more entertaining apple-picking activities. Where once a hay ride and a corn maze and the tantalizing smell of fresh apple cider donuts might’ve been enough to draw visitors for a harvest expedition, now farms are doing more and more to set themselves apart from their peers.
I’ve seen hydraulic farm equipment retrofitted into an animatronic pumpkin-eating dinosaur. I’ve poured quarter after quarter into vending machines to get pellets to feed to an army of pygmy goats through tiny holes in a chicken wire fence. I’ve seen caramel apple production lines that would give Henry Ford a frisson at the industrial efficiency. Once, in a “petting zoo,” I saw a captive liger, enormous with hybrid vigor, lolling in the unseasonably warm October heat. I never went back to the apple farm with the liger. They’d lost the plot, you see.
The plot is apples. Whether you pick them yourself or buy them by the bushel, the real draw of these days in the country is the opportunity to gorge yourself in the field on all-you-can-eat apples and to get home with so many apples that you don’t know what to do with them. After 25 years of winding up with a personal bumper crop of too many apples, I’ve got ample experience figuring out what to do with an excess harvest.
Benefit from my experience making the most of my total lack of self-control. The apple recipes below will serve to absorb your excess apples, whether you’ve got a bushel too many or just a few languishing in the fruit drawer.
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Learn how to take proper care of apples with these handy tips
How should I store apples?
Apples keep remarkably well! If kept in a cool and humid place, they can last months. Some apples even get better after long storage. If you have the room, the best option is to devote an entire crisper drawer in your fridge to your apples. Next best would be any cool, dark place in your home — think root cellars and attached garages. Wrap each apple in newspaper to prevent the proverbial bad apple from spoiling the bunch.
How long do apples last?
It depends on the variety and how recently they’ve been picked. A freshly picked Golden Delicious or Gold Rush apple can keep in the fridge for 3-4 months. Gala apples that have been sitting in the produce section of your local market for a while may only last a week or two in the fridge.
Can you freeze apples?
You can freeze apples, though the quality of the fruit will get worse in the freezer. Crisp apples will get mushy and the flavor will change. If you’re planning to use them for pie or jelly or applesauce, the best approach is to wash, peel, and slice them before freezing apples in airtight bags.
How to keep apples from browning
The easiest way to keep an apple from browning is by leaving it whole and storing it in a cool, dark place. You can dip sliced apples in acidulated water (water mixed with lemon juice or citric acid) to defer the discoloration for a little while, but every sliced apple will start to brown eventually.
What to make with apples
If you’re like me and you have way too many apples in your fridge, think about recipes that will deal with a large quantity of fruit all at once — applesauce, apple jelly, apple butter are all recipes that use up a lot of fruit and can be canned in jars that will keep even without refrigeration. Other ideas are below!
Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away?
No promises, but it can’t hurt.
Have apples for breakfast
Start your day with apples for breakfast with these apple breakfast recipes
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen makes a persuasive argument that a cool crisp is a natural fit at the breakfast table. With less sugar than a traditional dessert-oriented recipe, her apple crisp is more refreshing and less cloying. Bake it the night before and eat it cold the next day — your morning nutrition routine will stay low-stress and low-mess.
Thin slices of apple caramelize on a hot griddle with these apple-ricotta pancakes. Whole-fat ricotta cheese adds a savory richness that makes these hotcakes better than the average flapjack.
Overnight oats are very on-trend right now, but this recipe is no flash in the pan. Oats, applesauce, and almond milk spend the night commingling in the fridge and come out in the morning ready to be topped off with caramelized maple-cinnamon apples. Eat it cold or hot — either way, you can’t miss.
Stick apples in a salad
Apples make a great addition to almost any salad — here are a few different easy apple salad recipes to give you apple side dish inspo.
Tart shreds of Granny Smith apple set off crunchy fennel and shaved Brussels sprouts in this deceptively simple slaw. Dressed lightly with mayo and vinegar, these fall flavors can’t miss.
I like apples and walnuts and I love chicken salad to use up leftover roast chicken. Don’t be afraid to mix sweet and savory here.
Add a hard-boiled egg or two and this fall spinach-apple-cranberry salad is hearty enough to be a meal by itself. Salty bacon and funky blue cheese are effective counterpoints for tart crispy apple slices and vinegar dressing.
Make apples a main course
You may be ambivalent about fruit with your main course, but these easy apple recipes will make a believer out of anyone.
Pork chops and applesauce may be axiomatic, but braised pork chops on a bed of cabbage and apples are a stellar upgrade. I especially love the hint of fresh thyme on this Yummly original recipe by Ashley Strickland Freeman.
I love a good sheet pan recipe, especially when it helps me use up my annual apple surplus. Layers of potato, Brussels sprouts, and apples provide a vegetable foundation for roasted chicken pieces and get the benefit of a bath in those inimitable poultry juices. A hint of bacon, too? I can’t resist.
This time, we’ll load up our trusty half-sheet with maple-syrup sweet potatoes and apple cinnamon goodness and roast them in a hot oven with thick-cut pork loin chops.
Eat apples for dessert
Apple dessert recipes? Yes please!
Apple pie recipe? I think it speaks for itself. It’s a classic apple dessert for a reason. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and that’s it. You’re done.
Softened apple wedges sit on the top of this buttery cake like a crown. You’ll feel like a king tucking into a slice with a dollop of whipped cream after dinner.
Turn apple crumble inside out by stuffing the brown sugar crisp INSIDE the apple! Throw in some pecans if you’re feeling crunchy!
In a clever fit of kitchen alchemy, dates blend with almonds and masquerade as caramel in this lactose-free dessert. Roasted almonds and pumpkin seeds make for an irresistible crunch in this Yummly original recipe.
Silken apples, cinnamon sugar in a deep fried donut batter, crusted with sugary glaze? No need to reinvent the wheel; an apple fritter is up there with apple pie and s’mores as a quintessential dessert. You won’t regret breaking out the deep fryer once you taste these delectable pastries.
Simple as pie! Simpler, really — no pie crust! Store-bought puff pastry wrapped around a cored apple with a hint of cinnamon and sugar? You’ll be a hero at dessert and nobody has to know how easy these elegant confections are to prepare.
Put apples up for later
The pro-level move here is to process these recipes in a hot-water canner so you can keep shelf-stable jars on hand and enjoy the apple harvest year-round. Not up for canning? No problem — these recipes can be made in a small batch and refrigerated (or frozen).
David Lebovitz is one of my culinary heroes and this recipe is one of the reasons why. Dead simple — just apple juice, lemon juice, and sugar but magnificent. You’ll use up a dozen apples without batting an eye and wind up with a half-dozen jars of elegant, exquisite, crystal-clear jelly, ready for toast or PB&J’s that would make anyone swoon.
I love a hot biscuit with a slice of sage-scented breakfast sausage and a shmear of apple butter. Homemade slow cooker apple butter is another miraculous workhorse for taking care of too many apples, concentrating the essence of dozens of apples into an intense condiment.
Once you make your own homemade applesauce, you’ll become a snob like me, disdaining the grocery store brand at every turn. And it uses up a LOT of sweet apples!
This Indian-inspired chutney gets oomph from mustard seed, ginger, and garlic. It’s a great accompaniment for grilled meats or it's good on rice with a dollop of plain yogurt.
Other creative apple recipes
Still got apples in the crisper? Try these out-of-the-box options that turn apple expectation on its head.
How about an apple cocktail to use up the apple butter you made above? With a hit of bourbon and some apple cider, this spin on an old-fashioned is about as unorthodox as you can get, but delicious.
No dehydrator necessary, just a low oven and a little patience and you’ll have crunchy dried apple snacks that everybody will love.
Apple nachos! What’ll they think of next? Nobody will mistake them for nachos, but chocolate, peanut butter, and Greek yogurt make a great drizzle for a crisp apple slice.
More fruit ideas
Here's what to do when you find yourself with an abundance of all sorts of fruit!