Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Recipes

It's apple season! And that means lots of apples.

Around here, we usually don't get our bulk purchase of apples until a little later in the season, sometime in October, but this year we were blessed with the opportunity to buy a large amount of apples at a great price just last week. The apples were second-class - meaning they weren't "perfect" enough to be sent to the store, but they were great for preserving! We did have a few bad spots to cut around, but all-in-all it was a great deal! Thank You, Lord, for Your gifts!

We got 3.5 bushels of some sort of yellowish apple - we didn't pick the type, and we're not sure what they were, but they looked and tasted like golden delicious apples. They were nice and sweet, but not too soft.

3.5 bushels may not sound like a lot to some of you, but we've never put up that many apples before, so it seemed like a lot to us. For those of you who need a picture in your minds; imagine a box the size of one of those toilet-paper packages that holds 12 rolls (hey, I'm creative, okay?). Now imagine that box filled to the brim and heaped up to overflowing with luscious apples. That's 1/2 a bushel. We got 7 of those.

We made lots and lots of applesauce (SO easy!), some pie filling, and some apple dumplings the first day. We spent just about all of Tuesday in the kitchen. On Wednesday, it only took the morning to finish the remaining apples; we shredded or sliced them, and froze them for use in recipes later on.

When you're dealing with that many apples, even the piles of skin and cores can look huge:
My younger sisters, Tiffany and Lezely worked hard alongside Mom and I. Tiffany was really good at running the apple peeler/corer (we have the kind that you crank, and it does it all at once.) I think Tiffany peeled and cored almost 3 bushels by herself! Mom worked on the pie filling, and I did the apple dumplings. Lezley was here and there, doing whatever we asked her to do, whether it was washing the apples, loading pans with sliced apples, or helping Tiffany peel apples.

I thought you might like some apple recipes, since it's apple season in many places right now. :)

(I don't have the time to share the pie filling recipe right now, but it's definitely worth making. Store apple pie filling tastes like cinnamon-flavored Vaseline, in my humble opinion.)

Have you ever had homemade applesauce? If you haven't, you're missing out. It puts the store stuff to shame. It's so sweet. So chunky. So warm and hearty, if you eat it out of the pan. :)

It's also the easiest thing in the world to make. I'll give you the recipe. Ready?

#1: Peel, core, and slice a bunch of apples.
#2: Sprinkle them with lemon juice - just a tad, to keep them from going brown.
#3: Place apples in a slow cooker. Fill it up!
#4: Add a few cups of water - 2-4, depending on the size of your cooker.
#5: Cover, and cook on high for a few hours, until the apples are soft.
#6: Mash the apples right in the slow cooker, with the water. Leave some chunks if you like it that way! Add some sugar if you want - I think it's just right without it.
#7: Eat warm if at all possible!

See? I told you it was easy! I like to add cinnamon and peanut butter to my bowl of warm apple sauce. It's all up to you. But do add the cinnamon. It's just the perfect touch!

Speaking of perfect, let me share a scrumptious dessert with you; Apple Dumplings. So yummy! Everybody's heard of apple dumplings, but surprisingly few have ever made them. That's sad, considering how easy they are to make. We had never even eaten apple dumplings until last year, but once we got our first bite, we knew we had to make them again!

Here's how you can make your own:

Apple Dumplings

~ First, make up some pie crust. Use your favorite, tried-and-true recipe. For me, that's Tammy's Foul-proof Pie Crust. It always works. She uses all butter in her recipe, which I love, but for a big batch of dough like this, I substitute shortening for about 1/3 of the butter, just to cut down on the cost. I doubled the recipe, which is about the amount for 6 pie crusts. That gave me 3 dozen dumplings, so your ratio is pretty much 6 dumplings for every one pie you could have made...but I roll my dough pretty thin, so you'll have to see what your exact ratio is for your kitchen.

~ Peel, core, and slice your apples. (It takes about 12 to fill up a 9"X13" pan.) If you have an apple peeler like ours, that's easy. If you do it by hand, don't bother to slice your apple. You want it to stay intact. Our apple peeler slices the apple very thinly as it peels, and it will all stay nicely stacked up for us.

~ Grab a chunk of dough that's slightly larger than a golf ball, and roll it out to be about the size of a saucer - smaller or larger, depending on your apple sizes. I use lots of flour and roll my crust fairly thin. I don't have much trouble with holes or crust sticking to the table....but, then again, I've had lots of practice with crusts. If you make fewer dumplings, with thicker crust, it will be positively yummy that way, too! In fact, I like thicker crust - I'm just too cheap to make it that way. :)

Is this recipe getting too wordy for you?

~ Set your peeled and cored apple right in the middle of the dough. Bring the dough up and around it, wrapping the apple completely in dough. Give it some good pats to seal it in there, check that there are no holes in the bottom of the dough, and set the dumpling in an un-greased glass baking dish.

~ At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the dumplings (more info on that in a second) or bake them. Before baking, however, you want to make up a sauce to pour over the dumplings. That goes like this: (The amount is for a 9"x13" pan, or 12 dumplings)

1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
2-4 TBS of butter
A HEAPING TBS of cinnamon

Combine everything except for the butter and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in butter. Once the butter has melted and been stirred in, pour the sauce over the dumplings.

~ Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until apples are soft and smell wonderful.

~ Eat as-is, or with whipped cream on top. Or, if you are like the family who introduced us to apple dumplings, put one in a bowl, drown with milk, and eat with a spoon!

Although we could easily eat 3 dozen dumplings in a week, we decided to save 2 dozen in the freezer for later use. To do that, simply wrap the dumplings individually in handy wrap, and set in the freezer until solid. Then put them in freezer bags, (still wrapped) and - wala! - you're done!

Here's part of what we made on the first day. The apple dumplings are in the bags. Apple sauce and pie filling are in the jars and plastic containers. This all went in the freezer.
I must run for now, but I wish you all a very happy apple season!

1 comment:

hannah said...

Oh, I have never heard of apple dumplings made this way--with the whole apple upright. We usually have made them with diced apples with dough pinched into a "bundle" around them. This way sounds good, and the pie crust does, too!