Apples are a part of the American Mid West like tumble weeds are part of the southwest. Everyone knows where they are, which ones are their favorite, and how to make them into pie. Here in Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese is as common as having whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top. Neither strange or unusual in this pastoral apple country to find apple stands along the side of the road with no less than 14 different kinds of Apples. Families bond over the bounty of putting up apples for the year. Apple fests abound in each little hamlet and local apple cider is regular stocked in the grocery store in ice in displays by bins of apples. A familiar chill in the air tells everyone fall is here. From boiled apple cider, fresh cider, to apple sauce, apple syrup, jam, jelly, dried and long last pie filling graces the shelves of the pantry. Miles of dish clothes, jars, and apple peels followed by laughter of children with caramel apple dip and fresh sliced apples. Life marks the passage of summer by the apple season here among the coulees of the Mississippi. Spiders hurry to set crowning glory of webs to catch the last of the flies; squirrels busy collecting nuts before the impending snow. Life here is set to sounds of the passage of geese flying south and the west wind blowing through the trees.
Pie and Baking Apple Picks
Go for firm, tart/sweet apples with interesting flavor. You want fruit that stands up to sugar and spices and won’t dissolve in the heat. I’ve had great results mixing different varieties like Granny Smith with Winesap, or Empire, Pippin and Honey-crisp.
No matter what the recipe says, always taste your apples before adding sugar. Tart fruits might need more; sweeter apples will need less. I love fresh ginger grated, vanilla bean scraped, and brown cane sugar no beet sugar substituted.
Granny Smith: tart and crunchy. Braeburn, Fuji, Pink Lady, Jonathan and Empire: sweet/tart and crisp. Winesap: rich, wine-like sweet/tartness. William’s Pride and Honey crisp: crisp, wine-like and complex. Newtown Pippin and Prairie Spy: snappy/tart. Ashmead’s Kernel: puckery tart and bold. Chestnut Crab Apple: Lush with spicy accents. Clara’s Creek: puckery tart with big flavors.
Sauce Apple Picks
Get the most interesting flavors in your sauce by cooking the whole apple — seeds and peel along with the flesh. Then pass it through a food mill.
Try flavoring your sauce with a split and scraped vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract for a soft and mellow effect. A little dark rum cooked into the sauce doesn’t hurt either.
Cortland: slightly tart and creamy. Ginger Gold: tangy and sweet/tart. Gravenstein: sweet and melting. Idared: tart/sweet and creamy. Macoun: super sweet. Manitoba: spicy and tart. Nittany: plush and rich. Rome Beauty: tart and assertive. Staymen: snappy and tart.
Just in time for apple season. This recipe brings fall to my kitchen. I just a mix of honey crisp, jormac, and granny smith.
Makes 7 quarts
- 6 quarts blanched sliced fresh Apples use a mix
- 5 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
- 1 1/2 cups clear Jel
- 2 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups apple juice concentrate undiluted
- 5 cups fresh apple juice or cider
- 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- 7 drops yellow food coloring *Optional
- 1 Vanilla bean Scraped
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Wash, peel and core the apples. Slice them about 1/2 inch wide and place in water containing ascorbic acid to prevent browning. Blanch 2 quarts at a time for 1 minute in boiling water. While blanching other apples, keep ones already blanched in covered pot to keep warm.
Combine the sugar, ginger, & cinnamon in large pot with the water add apple juice, vanilla bean, clear jel, food coloring and nutmeg. Stir and cook on medium high heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
Drain the apple slices from the water, reserving juices.
Add lemon juice to water mixture and boil 1 minute more. Fold in the apple slices immediately and fill jars with mixture. Clean the rims and seal the jars. Process for 30 minutes in a water bath canner.
Apple Pie Spice Mix
1/4 cup ground Saigon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Allspice
2 Teaspoons fresh grated Nutmeg
2 Teaspoons dry ground Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground cardamom
Recipes to help with the glut of apples
- Recipes: Apple Betty, Apple and Cranberry Pandowdy and more (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- McApple Crisp (willthink4wine.blogspot.com)
- “Origins of Halloween: Celtic New Year, Dia de los Muertos. Fun family activities!” and related posts (elephantjournal.com)
- Meg’s Fruit Crisp/Crumble Tasty Treat (officialmegtilly.com)