Thursday, October 02, 2014

Apple Season

Bag of Apples
Apples from friends are the best!

It's no surprise to anyone I know that fall is my favorite time of year. There are so many reasons why, but one of the biggest is that it's prime time for apples. I have my favorites there, as well; Granny Smith or Pink Lady for eating, and a mix of Granny Smith and Macintosh for baking and cooking. Just this month I was introduced to SweeTango apples and fell in love with those, too.

I also get into the kitchen more in autumn, with apples ripe for the picking, pumpkins abound and meats being smoked for preserving ... it just makes me want to cook - and eat! This year (and at least one year past) I had a friend who picked apples from another friend's tree and dropped off what felt like about 40 pounds of apples. It was one packed bag. One look in that bag and I knew I'd be in the kitchen for days creating wonderful things.

Processing Apples
Processing apples for applesauce.

The first thing we did was process a bunch for applesauce  - I think we ended up with a gallon! It's so easy, just peel, core and chop, add a little water, sugar and cinnamon to taste and cook until mushy. I run mine through a food mill, but you can also put them in a food processor and pulse until it's the consistency you like. Mine doesn't last so long here, so I simply refrigerate until it's eaten up. You can surely can it and here are some great directions for that: Canning Applesauce.

Making Applesauce
Apples ready to cook into applesauce.

The next thing I did was process apples for pie filling, which is then put in the freezer to use at a later date. With a 60 hour work week and 7 kids, I need all the time I can get and freezing foods helps me so much in that department.

Freezer Pie Filling
Apple Pie Filling ready for the freezer.

This is very simple. Start with your favorite pie apple - I like Granny Smith or a mixture of Granny Smith and Macintosh - about 5 or 6 large apples will make an 8-inch pie. I used 15 - 20 medium apples and had enough for 3 pies. These apples were tart, so I added a little more sugar than usual to them, some cinnamon and a bit of flour to help thicken as they bake and also to help soak up some of the juices that are inevitable from thawing frozen apples. I tossed every thing with my hands and then divided it into labeled bags (label them before you fill them to make that step easier) - about 3 cups of filling per bag. Into the freezer they went and when I need one I'll remove it ahead of time and let thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Voila!

Freezer Apple Pie Filling
Thawed filling in pie crust.

You can cook this and cool before freezing or cook once thawed (see directions). You can also thaw and dump into crusts and bake! I've found just about any way works. This is perfect for nights when I really want a pie but don't want to do all that peeling. You can also make pie dough ahead of time, shape into discs and freeze as well until you need it!

Apple Pie Filling for the Freezer
Makes 1 pie


5 or 6 large apples such as Granny Smith or a mixture of apples
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar as needed for sweetness
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice - optional


1. Label a gallon-size freezer bag for Apple Pie Filling and date. Set aside.
2. Peel and core apples and sliced to desired thickness - we like thin apples here.
3. Place slices in a large bowl and add sugar, cinnamon, flour and lemon juice if using - mix with hands until well combined.
4. Pour into a freezer bag and remove excess air. Freeze and use within 6 months.
5. You can also cook the filling at this time and freeze once cooled.
6. Once thawed, cook the filling until apples are tender and sauce is thickened. Cool, add to pie crusts and bake as usual.

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