As September draws to a close, the beautiful fall weather is encouraging me to get outside to enjoy some trail riding. What’s your favorite fall activity? I hope that you and your family or friends can make time to create special memories! This time of year, there is an abundance of apples and the aroma of your favorite apple pie or cobbler can entice your family into the kitchen! What are your favorite flavors?
What can you do with lots of apples? Depending on the variety they can be dried, made into applesauce or apple butter, or even made into a delicious apple- pear jam. They can be preserved by canning or freezing, but try those in small quantity to make sure the expectations meet your needs before you do a large amount. Many find that the softer apples are not desirable when canned or frozen. Think about your end product, what are you going to use them for when you prepare them? Ideally find a recipe that will help you get that result as you begin.
Whether you are buying apples at the grocery store, visiting the nearby orchard, or picking apples from your backyard, choose the preservation method that is best for your apple variety.
If you want to freeze apples try these varieties: Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Stayman, Jonathan and Granny Smith.
For cooking or making applesauce and apple butter try these: Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, Stayman, Jonathan, Gravenstein and McIntosh.
Red Delicious while tasty and crunchy are not the best for use in cooking or preserving.
When you go to pick your apples or if you are selecting them at the store or market, remember to get them at the peak of ripeness with no bruises or decay spots. A hard firm apple is usually best as soft apples tend to be mealy in texture and overripe in flavor. Russeting, or little brown spots on the skin of the apple, does not affect the quality.
If making applesauce, apple butter or dried slices with your apples, use them as soon as possible after harvest. If any apples must be stored, keep them in a cool, dark place. They should not be tightly covered or wrapped up; a perforated plastic or open paper bag, basket or wooden crate are good choices. If kept in the refrigerator, apples should be placed in the humidifier compartment or in a plastic bag with several holes punched in it (or in a zipper-type vegetable bag). This prevents loss of moisture and crispness. Apples should not be placed close to foods with strong odors since the odor may be picked up by the apples.
Why not use an evening or weekend to take a trip to your local orchard and pick your favorite fall apples. Then, use a simple recipe to work together in the kitchen for wonderful family time. The aroma and memories will always bring a smile in reflection!
Author: Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.