Please note that this picture came from another blog I just discovered when I did my "google images search". I was too lazy to photograph a nearly identical basket of apples that is on my own kitchen counter. Wanted to give credit where credit is due! Click here for original photo and accompanying, yummy-looking apple recipe.
Mmmmm.... there are so many divine apple-related eating experiences, aren't there? That might help to explain why fall is my favorite season since it happens to be apple season. (I've also always lived in the Southeast and fall is such a welcome break from the heat and humidity and mosquitoes!)
So, what can you do with apples besides eat them out of hand? What apples are best for various eating experiences? Read on for suggestions and information on apple varieties. Before we go any further into our apple exploration, I must tell you that if there is an orchard within driving distance of your house, you must start there. Even a local produce market will be better than a supermarket if you're anywhere close to apple country. Why? My local Kroger sells beautiful, waxed, all-the-same-size Honey Crisps for $2.99/pound. The orchard (literally a 10 minute drive up the road) sells homey-looking, multi-sized, nonwaxed Honey Crisps for .... $0.80/pound. Hmm... You tell me which I'd rather buy: I'll take cheaper, fresher, non-waxed any day. And those little apples you can find at orchards and produce markets are the perfect size for little hands!
For eating apples out of hand, my top favorites are Honey Crisps, Cameos, Mutzus. No question. If you've never tried one of these apples, you must! They are all crisp and sort of sweet-tart.
For apple dumplings, Romes or Winesaps work well--my mother-in-law uses both and I've had the best luck with Romes in particular.
For apple sauce, a mixture is best. Make sure you include some good firm, tart ones (Arkansas Black, Granny Smith, early Winesaps) in the mix as well as some softer ones (Macintosh, Jonagolds, Jonamacs). Sweet apples (Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonamacs, etc.) will give a sweeter, less complex sauce. This can be good if you want something sweeter (I never add sugar to my applesauce.). If you want rich apple flavor, though, you must include some tart varieties. Including a mixture of firm and soft apples will also give you a nice texture variation.
For apple pies, frequently Granny Smith or other tart, firm apples work best since they hold their shape a bit better. Here's a recipe by Gayle over at The Grocery Cart Challenge for apple pies that freeze well (step by step freezing directions)!
Here's a list of recipes that simply use any kind of apples (nice to have on hand if you, like me, can't resist a big bag of reduced apples that still look perfect or you've just been to an orchard and bought the full bushel...):
- Apple Oatmeal
- Apple Scones
- Pork with Apples
- Baked Apples (in crockpot)
- Apple Chicken
- Oatmeal Apple Muffins
- Apple Oatmeal Bars
- Apple Walnut Muffins
- Apple Scones
- Apple Dutch Baby
- (I'll be updating the links above and adding more in the next couple of weeks!)
For more apple facts than you will ever need, read this. For more general info on apples, check out this.