Apple season is upon us and last night I went to a course and tasting on Washington apples at The Dahlia Lounge (thanks to my foodie brother, Darryl).
So, while my mind is wrapped around apples, let's discuss some of the fantabulous things you can do with all dem apples. Don't be shy - make this year the one where you buy a bushel or two.
Of course, there's the myriad ways of cooking and baking with apples, but I'm assuming you can eat only so many apple pastries at once so I'm going to focus on throwing out some ideas of things to do with apples that you can store and enjoy throughout the year.
Well, first off there's the beverage selections. You can press your own apples and make apple juice or apple cider. You can home pasteurize these juices by boiling and then freezing the juice to make sure that nothing unwanted grows in your liquids. If you are real excited, you can make your own hard apple cider. You can even make your own apple cider vinegar if you let your hard cider ferment until it becomes vinegar.
Don't forget! You can boil down the juice or cider to make an apple syrup which can come in handy for making apple-flavored cocktails among other things.
Canning jams, jellies and whatnots
Next up are easy ways of preserving the apple bounty by using your trusty canner. You can make apple jelly, caramel apple jam, applesauce, apple chutney and apple pie filling.
Don't forget! You can make your own pectin from apples for use in your other canning projects.
Drying and freezing
A great, fast and tasty way of preserving loads of apples is by dehydrating them. You can dry them with or without the skins on, just know that it takes longer to dry them if you leave them on. By doing this at home you avoid the sulfur-laden ones from the store.
It's easy to freeze apples. You basically just slice them up, toss them with ascorbic acid and freeze. Another thing I like to do is prepare apple pie filling and freeze until ready to use. You can also freeze the pie filling (inside a large freezer bag) in a pie plate if you intend on going straight from the freezer to the oven.
Storing them straight up
If you are lucky enough to have a cellar or some sort of cold storage, you can store your apples until you are ready to eat them. Thick skinned apples are better at storing than others, just make sure they aren't bruised otherwise they'll all ripen faster. It's the old "one bad apple" adage.
If you don't know what to do with all those windfall apples that get blown off your trees (or your neighbor's), check out this article from Mother Earth News, What to Do with Windfall Apples.
I hope this has given you enough ideas of what to do with your apples. What's your favorite method to store or preserve them?