One of the best parts of living in New England is the plethora of apple orchards. I can’t imagine not including apple picking as one of the main fall activities. It’s such a fun, relaxing time, and is perfect for all ages. We usually go to Carver Hill Orchards in Stow to pick apples and have cider donuts. It’s small and quiet, and far superior to it’s larger kid-focused neighbors.
I generally only make it to an orchard once a season, which is a real shame. It always seems that fall will last way longer than it does, but the days just go by so fast lately. So, this is me saying to get out there now and go apple picking. Or romp through the fallen leaves. Or take a short hike to see the foliage. It’s the best time of the year, and deserves to be enjoyed in all its splendor.
The extreme drought we’ve had this year, combined with a late frost + cold snap in April, mean that the apples are smaller than usual. A 1/2 peck bag usually fits around 25 apples, but we had almost 40. Despite the small size, the apples were quite tasty. Crisp and flavorful. Perfect for snacking and for baking. Applesauce is one of my favorite snacks. It’s tasty, relatively healthy, and wicked easy to make. I prefer slow cooking the sauce, which allows the fruit to break down on its own, and also makes your house smell awesome. You can cook them faster if you want.
For this batch, I used Macouns and McIntosh apples, as that is what was ripe at the time. Both varieties are supposed to break down well in sauces (check out AllRecipes for a great descriptive list of different varieties and whether they are good for baking), but some of the apple chunks wouldn’t budge. I used a potato masher on those.
Difficulty: Very easy
- 7 medium sized apples
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Dash of nutmeg
- Dash lemon juice
- Apple peeler
- Apple corer (you can core by hand too)
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
- Peel, core, and chop all of the apples
- Place the apples in a large pot (I use an enamel stockpot) and add a dash or two of lemon juice
- Add in the cinnamon stick and a dash or two of nutmeg, and the sugar
- Add some water and stir everything together
- Turn on very low heat. If you want it to quick quicker, go with medium low heat
- Keep a cup of water near the pot. Come back and stir every so often, adding water as necessary. I don’t usually cover the apples with water – basically, you don’t want it to dry out.
- Over time the cinnamon stick will swell and the apples will start to break down. Taste and add more nutmeg if desired. If you want it sweeter, add a little more sugar. I prefer mine tart
- Some of the apples won’t break down, so you can mash them with a potato masher
- Once most of the apples are broken down, and it starts to get thick, you can remove it from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick. I don’t put mine through a food mill, but you can if you want. I prefer it chunkier
- Serve warm, or you can section in to small containers and bring it to work for a midday snack
- Add a dash of cloves or any other baking spice
- Sometimes I’ll add enough water to nearly cover the apples, especially if I’m getting started on another project and won’t be in the kitchen as frequently.