Sep 20, 2021

What to Do with Apples from Apple Picking

Sharing a combination of sweet and savory recipe ideas for what to do with all those apples you've brought home from the orchard!

What to Do with Apples from Apple Picking

So you’ve gone apple picking and don’t know what to do with all those apples you’ve brought home! Having a bagful of fresh apples is a great excuse to whip up sweet treats and savory meals for your family and friends. I’m here to share some of my favorite recipes utilizing apples (and apple cider)  in a variety of unique ways – apple crisps, apple butter, apple cakes, apple crumbles, apple muffins, apple pie, salad utilizing apples and of course my personal favorite – donuts.

While you can buy apples in the grocery store year round, fall is when they are at their peak. I love a fall activity, and there’s just something about visiting an apple orchard once the chill of fall sets in. The town I grew up in, Long Valley, NJ, is famous for their orchards and farms. People flock out of New York City just to go apple and pumpkin picking. I make my friends and family take a yearly trip to our favorite orchard to stock up.

A variety of apples picked at an orchard on a white wood board

What Apples Should I Use for Baking? 

You can’t generalize apples when it comes to baking. Not all varieties will create the same dessert. While thin-skinned varieties like Gala, Fuji and Pink Lady are great for snacking, tart apples are best for baking. 

  • Honeycrisp –  While Honeycrisp apples are also great for eating, they are just as great for baking because of their semi-sweet flavor. They are easy to find, sweet and their crisp texture holds up as the apples bake in everything from apple crisp to apple hand pies. Honeycrisp apples only came about in 1991 and quickly became one of America’s favorites. 
  • Golden Delicious – Golden Delicious apples are yellow with a mild and sweet flavor. They’re similar in flavor to McIntosh apples though they tend to break down faster than other apples on the list so they’re better combined with another variety. 
  • Cortland – Cortland apples are a bright red popular variety. They are actually a cross between a McIntosh and Ben Davis apple created in New York in 1898. It’s a juicy variety of apple with sweet-tart flavor. 
  • Jonathan – Jonathan apples are an heirloom variety meaning it can be traced back at least 100 years. They’re a combination of yellow and red in color with a tougher skin. It’s sweet, with a tangy aftertaste.  
  • Gala – Gala apples are red-pink, aromatic apples with mild and sweet flavor. It’s now the top produced apple in the United States, surpassing both Red Delicious and Granny Smith. They’re great for both eating raw and cooking. 
  • Granny Smith – Tart apples with crisp texture like Granny Smith are also great for baking because they offset the added sugar though using too many can be overpowering. Try using a few of them mixed with another variety rather than all Granny Smith for a more well rounded flavor. 
apple recipes from bushel of green granny smith apples

Tips for Picking and Storing Apples

  • When buying apples look for unblemished and unbruised apples. 
  • They last about 5 to 7 days on the counter and about 3 weeks in a pantry (or another cool, dark place). 
  • In the refrigerator they last even longer. The key to storing apples and keeping them fresh is keeping them cool. 

How to Prep Apples

While a small paring knife is all you truly need for peeling apples, a vegetable peeler can often be quicker when working with numerous apples. As soon as apples are peeled they quickly begin to brown. So to slow down the process I recommend adding them to a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of lemon juice. The citrus helps to slow down the oxidization.

Apple Recipes

Apple Butter Recipe

Apple Butter

Classic apple butter is made from semi-tart apples like Gala, mixed with a little bit of sugar and spice and is the perfect topping to a nice golden brown piece of sourdough toast with a pat of butter. Add to a jar and tie it with a bow for a great seasonal hostess gift. 

Apple Crisp Recipe

Apple Crisp

In this apple recipe, sliced apples in cinnamon sugar are served topped with a crumbly, oat topping baked until golden brown. It uses simple ingredients found in any pantry to create a delicious fall dessert. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream just before serving. 

fried apple fritters recipe with cider glaze arranged on white background

Apple Fritters with Cider Glaze

Basic yeasty donut dough is combined with spiced cooked apples and fried until golden brown and crisp before being dipped in a sticky apple cider glaze.

Apple Cheddar Hand Pie

Apple Cheddar Hand Pies

This apple recipe is basically a hybrid of a classic apple pie and a pop tart with the surprise addition of cheddar cheese on top. The baked apple filling is added to rectangles of simple pastry dough. 

Turkey, Apple and Brie Open-Face Sandwiches 

Turkey, Apple and Brie Open-Face Sandwiches 

Slices of deli-sliced turkey are piled on top of toasted crusty bread with crisp apple slices and creamy Brie cheese. The light flavors pair perfectly with the rich Thousand Island dressing.

German Almond-Apple Butter Cake

German Almond-Apple Butter Cake

This gooey apple cake with just a hint of almond is layered with tart apple slices for an autumn confection. Top each slice with a scoop of salted caramel or vanilla ice cream. 

Pancake recipe for fall fruits

Apple Pancakes

Pancakes are a staple weekend breakfast food and instead of resorting to a pre-made mix take an extra few minutes to whip up this batter. The addition of tart Granny Smith apples adds a satisfying crunch to the fluffy pancakes. 

baked brown sugar apples on crostini with chorizo and blue cheese

Baked Apple, Blue Cheese and Chorizo Crostini

Crostini topped with tender baked chopped apples cooked in brown sugar, blue cheese and chorizo for a flavorful appetizer for a crowd.

Sea Salt Bourbon Caramel Apples with Spider Web Chocolate

Sea Salt Bourbon Caramel Apples with Spider Web Chocolate

While slightly messy to make, these apples are coated in a bourbon caramel sauce and chocolate drizzle “spiderweb”. They’re delicious to eat for a Halloween treat.

use apples to make apple sangria with cider and fresh apple slices

Apple Sangria

This juicy and light sangria filled with fresh slices of apples only takes a few minutes to assemble in a large pitcher and is perfect for holiday parties.

Thai-Inspired Crab Cakes

Thai-Inspired Crab Cakes with Mango Chutney and Apple Slaw

A refreshing, bright, Thai spin on classic crab cakes. The tangy apple slaw perfectly offsets the sweet and slightly spicy mango chutney and crisp crab cakes. 

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Reduced apple cider is mixed into a simple batter and added to molds for simple baked apple cider donuts. Getting a dozen cider donuts may just be my favorite part about apple picking! I always pick up a jug of fresh apple cider and make more donuts at home. 

Sage Glazed Bone-In Pork Chops

Apple Cider and Sage Glazed Bone-In Pork Chops

This recipe uses apple cider (another favorite to buy when apple picking) as a glaze for the pork chops. Serve alongside Cheddar mashed potatoes and baked apples or applesauce. 

Brined Turkey Breast for Two

Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast for Two

This recipe also uses apple cider. The cider is combined with spices and salt to brine the turkey breast which is perfect for small Thanksgiving gatherings or dinner parties. Pair with mashed or roasted sweet potatoes for a complete dinner. 

Seared Scallops with Green Apple Slaw

Seared Scallops with Green Apple Slaw

Seared sea scallops sit atop a bed of fresh and crunchy green apple slaw with roasted potatoes topped with a lemon butter pan sauce. The crisp and tart apples compliment the buttery sauce for a filling, yet light, autumn entrée.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

This twist on classic cinnamon rolls includes an autumnal favorite: baked apples which naturally complement the cinnamon sugar filling in this recipe.

Homemade Spiced Apple Cider

Homemade spiced apple cider can be served hot or cold (or with your favorite whiskey) for the perfect seasonal treat.

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