There is nothing better than homemade applesauce from hand-picked apples, and it is so easy to do! If you want chunky applesauce, use a potato masher to mash the cooked apples. If you prefer smooth apple sauce, run the cooked apples through a food mill. The key is adding a few strips of lemon peel to the apples while cooking. The lemon heightens the apple flavor.
Preparation time: 45 minutes. The sugar amounts are just guidelines, depending upon your taste and on the sweetness of your apples, use less or more. If you use less sugar, you’ll likely want to use less lemon juice. The lemon juice brightens the flavor of the apples and balances the sweetness.
1. Put all ingredients into a large pot. Cover. Bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir often.
2. Remove from heat. Remove cinnamon sticks and lemon peels. Mash with potato masher.
3. Ready to serve, either hot or refrigerated. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt.
Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in a cold freezer.
Home Made Apple Cider
The apples you choose are very important as they define the taste of the cider. Most manufactured apple ciders use a variety of different types of apples in their standard apple ciders. You can employ this mixing technique or simply use one variety of apple to make your cider. Red Delicious, Green Delicious, Fuji, Jonagold and other sweet-tasting apples. Granny Smith, McIntosh, Pink Lady and other tart-tasting apples will produce sharper ciders due to their tangy flavors.
Step 1:Choose your apples
1. Experiment with a variety of different types of apples, if you are going to mix apple types in your cider. Try to get a good mix of red, green and gold apples.
2. Choose fresh apples that are picked directly from the trees. You should never use apples that have fallen on the ground as these may possess cider toxins and bacteria.
3. Discard any apples that are bruised or discolored. You should only use fresh, healthy apples to make apple cider.
4. If you don’t grow your own apples, try to visit a local farmer’s market to purchase the apples. While you can purchase apples from any grocery store, you’ll have a fresher cider if you opt for farmer’s market apples.
Step 2: Prepare the Apples
* Before you begin pressing the apples to get the juice out of them, you’ll need to first prepare them.
1. Wash all the apples thoroughly.
2. Core the apples. You can do this manually, however, it’s much faster to use an apple corer.
3. Slice the apples into quarters.
4. Put the quartered apples into the blender or food processor and puree them.
5. Continue pureeing the apples until they are very finely ground. You will be able to extract more juice from the apples if you attain a very fine ground.
Step 3: Press the Apples
Now that you have cored and pureed your apples, you are ready to press them.
1. Place the cheesecloth over the container in which you’ll store the apples.
2. Pour the pureed apples into the cheesecloth.
3. Squeeze the pureed apples through the cheesecloth and into the container below.
4. Apply firm, steady pressure as you squeeze. This will ensure that you extract all juice possible from the pureed apples.
If you are making large amounts of apple cider, you may wish to use a cider press. A cider press is a device with mechanically pulps and squeezes apples, and will extract juice more efficiently than squeezing by hand. Or you can use a fruit/vegetable juicer sold in a variety of shops.
Step 4: Store the Apple Cider
Now that you have extracted all the juice from the apples, your cider is ready to be stored. If you wish, you can also pasteurize your cider.
1. Cover the container with an airtight lid. The cider should not be exposed to air or it will go bad much more quickly.
2. Store your apple cider in the refrigerator. If kept refrigerated, it should stay fresh for about seven days.
3. Pasteurize your apple cider by heating it to 160 º F. This will help to kill any bacteria present. Pasteurized apple cider will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
4. Freeze your apple cider if you won’t be consuming it in the near future. When frozen, apples and apple cider will remain fresh for up to one year.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pregnant women, elderly people and children should not drink unpasteurized apple cider as it may contain bacteria.
Variations on Apple Cider
You can have a lot of fun by experimenting with different seasonings and additions to your homemade apple cider. Don’t be afraid to try your own variations! You might discover a sensational combination.
1. Add cinnamon sticks to your apple cider for traditional holiday taste.
2. Mix apple cider with a bit of rum and brown sugar for an alcoholic beverage that tastes great.
3. Drizzle caramel into your apple cider for a decadent warm beverage.
4. Try various spices in your apple cider. Nutmeg, cloves, ginger and lemon peel all add tasty flavors to hot cider.
5. Pour apple cider over vanilla ice cream and top with caramel and whipped cream for a rich dessert. Add a slice of pound cake for added texture and taste.
6. Blend apple cider with orange juice, ice and honey for a refreshing summer beverage.
Recipes for Apple Tart:
1/2 cup sugar
1. MIX flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
2. DRIBBLE in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
3. PLACE dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan, or simply on a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish to go free-form, or galette-style with it. Heat oven to 400º F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
4. OVERLAP apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if going galette-style, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
5. BRUSH melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle sugar over dough edge and over apples.
6. BAKE in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
7. MAKE glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
8. REMOVE tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
9. BRUSH glaze over tart, slice, and serve.
Fall is Fruit Harvesting season where I live and going to a local orchard to either pick your own or to buy a box of fresh fruit is an enjoyable family outing. The smell and taste of freshly picked cherries or apples just doesn’t compare to the grocery store. If you don’t have a local orchard, there is sure to be a farmers market nearby where you can stock up on local fruit.
It is easy to make your own dried apple rings or pieces to keep in your pantry for snacks or an addition to your morning oatmeal especially if you have a food dehydrator.
You can use your oven as well, but without a fan it takes longer and ties up your oven as well as heats up your kitchen.
Core and slice your apples in as uniform pieces as possible. The thinner they are the faster they will dry. Cut out any bruised or bad spots as you go. Place the apple rings on the dehydrator trays or oven racks and set the temperature to about 140ºF. If you’re using a dehydrator with a fan check back in about 8 hours to see how they’re doing. The apple slices will be dry when they have a leather consistency. Be sure they are completely dry before you package them so no mold can grow and contaminate your whole batch. Store in air tight containers in a cool dry place.
Keep Apples from Turning Brown by three easy methods: Apples are notorious for browning. Once you have washed, cored and/or peeled your apples, you will want to either:
(1) Dissolve ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid, also known as “FruitFresh”, into 3 tablespoons of water then sprinkle over the apples and blend.
(2) Soak sliced apples in a solution of 2 tablespoons of salt per 1 gallon of water, stir water a bit to make sure all have been submerged, or
(3) Steam-blanch them for 1 ½ minutes then cool them in ice water before freezing.
Any of the three methods mentioned above will keep apples from browning and must be applied before apples are frozen.
Cherries are already little bundles of natural sugar dressed up as fruit, so there is no need to add additional sugar.
There are several ways to pack cherries for freezing. The best method selected will depend upon how you want to use the frozen product.
Sugar Syrup Recipes: The sugar syrup recipe is useful because it preserves the flavor and texture best. Use 2 cups of sugar added to every 3 cups of water. Of course, you can scale this up or down to according to the table below. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Chill. Add ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid (Fruit Fresh) to each quart of syrup. Pour ½ cup of syrup into the freezer container then add cherries. If necessary, add more syrup until the cherries are completely covered and place a small piece of waxed paper on top to keep the cherries submerged. Leave ½ inch headspace for pints, 1 inch for quarts.
Syrup Pack: A light syrup is recommended for sweet cherries while a medium syrup can be used for sour cherries. Allow at least 1/2 to 2/3 cup of syrup for each pint size jar of fruit.
Sugar Pack: Mix 2/3 cups sugar per 1 quart of sour cherries or 1/3 cups sugar per quart of sweet cherries. Place cherries into freezer containers leaving at least 1/2 inch head space.
Loose Cherry Pack: This method entails placing the freshly pitted cherries directly into freezer containers. Make sure to remove as much air as possible and remember to leave at least 1/2 to 3/4 inch head room at the top.
Unsweetened Pack: Place washed, pitted fresh cherries in a single layer on a cookie sheet or shallow tray, then place in the freezer. Once the cherries are completely frozen, transfer them to freezer bags or plastic containers for long term storage. Squeeze as much air out of the container as possible. You can even use a straw to suck the air out if you would like.
Use frozen cherries in smoothies, shakes, or any baked goods in which you would use fresh pitted cherries.
Fruit for Gifts Here
This is a delicious cherry cobbler made with fresh cherries instead of canned. It may take a little longer to make because you need to pit the cherries, but it is well worth it when you taste the finished product.
1. Preheat the oven to 350º F (175º C). Place the butter in a 9×13 inch baking dish, and place in the oven to melt while the oven is preheating. Remove as soon as butter has melted, about 5 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and baking powder. Mix in the milk until well blended, then pour the batter into the pan over the butter. Do not stir.
3. Rinse out the bowl from the batter, and dry. Place cherries into the bowl, and toss with the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. Distribute the cherry mixture evenly over the batter. Do not stir.
4. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. A toothpick inserted into the cobber should come out clean
Note: This cobbler recipe is easy & really delicious. You may want to doubled the sour cherries (4 cups), add 1 tsp. vanilla extract & ½ tsp. cinnamon. This recipe is a keeper! Addition: Please note the extra cherries could add additional cooking time (about 20 min.)
Basic Sweet Pie Crust
Preheat the oven 350º F .
In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the cherries and cook, stirring gently, for 1 minute. Add the sugar-flour mixture, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Let cool.
Divide the pie dough in two, one portion slightly larger then the other. Roll out the larger portion on a lightly floured surface to about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer to a deep 8-inch cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, fitting the dough up the sides, leaving a slight overhang. Roll out the remaining dough into a large rectangle and cut into 1-inch thick strips.
Pour the fruit mixture into the bottom dough. Working one strip at a time, create a lattice top crust by laying the strips across the top in one direction, then turn and lay across in the other, interweaving the strips if desired. Roll up the overhanging bottom crust over the edges and pinch to seal. Crimp together around the pan. Brush the top with the cream and lightly sprinkle with one tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbly, about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
Basic Sweet Pie Crust
Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Using your fingers, work in the butter and shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and work with your fingers until the water is incorporated and the dough comes together. Add more water as needed to make a smooth dough, being careful not to over mix.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
1. Place crescent dough on a lightly floured surface; seal seams and perforations. Cut into 2-in. circles. Place in greased miniature muffin cups. In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Place about 1/2 teaspoon in each cup. Combine pie filling and extract; place about 2 teaspoons in each cup.
2. Bake at 375º F for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Refrigerate until serving.
Cherry Cream Cheese Tarts:
1. Preheat oven to 350º F .
2. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of muffin pan. Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, 1at a time, beating well after each addition. Lay a vanilla wafer, flat side down, in each muffin cup. Spoon cream cheese mixture over wafers. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool completely. Serve with cherry filling on top, or pie filling of your choice.
Fresh Cherry Tarts Recipe
1. Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in top of a double boiler.
2. Add corn syrup and mix well.
3. Add cherries.
4. Place over boiling water and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens.
5. Cover and continue cooking about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove from heat and add almond extract.
8. Pour into baked tart shells and chill.
9. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
Makes 6 tarts.
Baked Fresh Cherry Pie
1. Preheat oven to 400º F (205º C). Place bottom crust in piepan. Set top crust aside, covered.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine tapioca, salt, sugar, cherries and extracts. Let stand 15 minutes. Turn out into bottom crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, flute edges and cut vents in top. Place pie on a foil lined cookie sheet — in case of drips!
3. Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.