How to Preserve Apples Six Different Ways
Are you wondering how you can preserve you're apples you've picked or gleaned from a local orchard? Read along for six different ways to preserve with recipes and resources for each.
Apples are symbolic of summer ending and autumn peeking around the corner. When you see the trees fill up with shiny, red or golden yellow apples, you know the air is soon to get crisp and fall is on the horizon.
If you have your own apple tree, or you've gleaned apples from a local orchard, or from a farmer's market or grocery store, and you're curious to how you can preserve them, this post is for you! With all of these preservation methods you should be able to enjoy your apples all winter long. Like many fruits and vegetables, there are several different options for preserving apples.
What you choose is up to you, depending on your taste preference and how you plan to use them.
SIDE NOTE: if you're still picking your apples or getting ready to pick them, we shared an in-depth post on how and when to pick apples, check it out HERE.
If you follow along with us on Instagram then you know we've been preserving up a storm with our apples. We'll show the recipes we used below, as well as links to some other options that look just as delicious!
An apple peeler, corer, and slicer is SO convenient for anything related to apple preservation. Here is a great option that you can buy online or at most home goods stores (click the photo to shop). Of course, you can always use a knife to get the job done, it will just take a while longer.
In addition, to get the best results in all of these recipes you should plan on using apples that are at peak flavor, have been cleaned thoroughly, and are disease free. If you have apples that are bruised, picked at by birds, or have worm holes, save them for eating and simply cut off the affected area before chowing down. We had several that had slight imperfections that we still used in some of these recipes but we just made sure to cut away and remove these areas. You don't want any diseased areas to go into the recipe as it can speed up the spoilage process.
If you are not familiar with canning, we suggest you watch a quick video or read an article on the basics so that you have a general idea before trying any of these recipes. Canning is a wonderful way to practice self-sufficiency and to preserve your harvest, but its very important that its done correctly and that proper care is taken. When its not done correctly, your canned goods can be at risk for spoilage and attracting different diseases that can be harmful to your health when eaten. You can head over to this article HERE by Fresh Preserving. They give you the basics of canning and then you can click through to learn more specifically about the different methods.
6 Methods For Preserving Apples
Canned Apple Butter
Although its name can be misleading, apple butter is much like a jelly or a jam. Its a fruity spread that can be used on toast, pancakes, and even atop your favorite, vanilla ice cream. And the best thing? Its SO simple to make. For the most part, all you need are your apples, apple cider, and whatever seasonings and flavorings you prefer. It takes a few hours to cook, sometimes up to eight hours if you are using a slow-cooker, so make sure you plan accordingly with your time.
The following is the recipe we used this year. It turned out delicious! It had very good flavor and the consistency was perfect.
1 gallon apple cider
7 pounds of tart apples (cored, peeled, and sliced)
1 Tbsp of cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup sugar
Boil apple cider in large stock pot until reduced by half, about 30-60 min. Add apples and bring back to a boil. Boil uncovered 4-5 hours, stirring to prevent burning. When mixture has darkened and turned into a marmalade of sorts, add remaining ingredients. Stir, spoon into hot and sterilized canning jars, (pint sized is best), and fill to within 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe the rims clean, cover with lids, and process in a water bath canner for 10-20 minutes depending on your altitude.
***Recipe adapted from cookbook author Eliza Leslie.
If you were thinking about cooking yours in your slow cooker, which just takes a while longer, you can try following the recipe in the video below by Martha Stewart and Amy Traverso.
Who doesn't love applesauce? Its quintessential of childhood and a perfect snack for your young kiddos, toddlers, and even your babe. Heck, you could even snack on it! Not gonna lie, I've eaten a whole quart of our applesauce in the last week, by myself (insert embarrassed monkey emoji!). Applesauce is also great as a substitution in many baked goods. There are a lot of different applesauce recipes out there, so really its up to you depending on your taste and texture preference. Add a cinnamon or cinnamon stick if you like the flavor, or simply opt out of it if you don't. If you prefer a smoother applesauce, make sure to blend your mixture longer. If you like it chunky, then just use a potato masher.
8 pounds of apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
one lemon peel, sliced into strips
juice from two lemons
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a stock pot and simmer, uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Blend with a hand blender, potato masher, or blender (for smoother consistency) until desired consistency. Ladle into hot, sterilized jars. Wipe the rims clean, cover with lids, and process in a water bath canner for 25 minutes.
***Recipe adapted from Lulu The Baker.
If you'd like a recipe that doesn't have any added sugar, THIS one by Simple Seasonal would be perfect. She only uses apples and a little lemon juice. If you like the flavor of cinnamon in yours you can sprinkle some cinnamon on just before eating, or add in a couple tablespoons of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick while its cooking.
Canned, Sliced Apples
Mmmm, how nice to be able to pop open a can of apple slices in the dead of winter to use in recipes, shovel onto your warm oatmeal, or to snack on throughout the day. You'll be reminded of warm and crisp fall weather. Though there are a few different recipes for canned apple slices, we found the following recipe to be best for retaining the taste and texture of fresh apples.
Have a large stock pot nearby. Peel, core, and slice your apples. Add five cups of apples to the bottom of your stock pot and then top with 3/4 cups of sugar. Continue to layer apple slices and sugar until you are about two inches from the top. Place a small plate on the apples with a weight on top. Cover the stock pot with a lid and let sit for about 12-24 hours.
After the apples have released their juices and have been sitting for 12-24 hours. Use a slotted spoon to remove the apple slices and place in hot, sterilized jars, within one inch of the top. Bring the juices in the stock pot to a boil on your stove. Once the juice has boiled, spoon it over the top of the apple slices until within 1/2" of the top of the jar. Make sure all of the apples are covered. Remove any air bubbles by running a canning knife along the edges of the jar. Wipe the rims clean, cover with a lid, and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (make sure to check your altitude)
***Recipe adapted from Reformation Acres.
Canned Apple Pie Filling
If you love a good apple pie, then you'll love making canned, apple pie filling. Its so convenient and allows you to utilize your apples when they're at peak flavor. If you're skeptical of it changing the taste or the texture, don't be! Many people swear apple pies made with home-canned, apple pie filling tastes better than those made with fresh apples. But don't take our word for it, you be the judge! Can some of your apples this year into apple pie filling and let us know how those pies taste in a few months.
6 pounds of apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp. salt
10 cups water
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large pan. Add water and salt and mix well. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to boil until it has thickened.
Pack sliced apples into clean, sterilized jars. Pour syrup mixture over the top of the apples. Use a canning knife to go along the edges of the jars to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims clean and top with clean and sterilized lids. Process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes (depending on your altitude).
***NOTE: some people suggest that using cornstarch when canning is not as safe. There are alternatives that are similar to cornstarch that are made specifically for canning. Please research and choose what you think is best for you and your family.
We also had our eye on THIS recipe by Melissa K. Norris. Its similar but she uses raw sugar, adds a touch of ginger (YUM!), and uses Clear Gel (the cornstarch alternative for canning). This is a healthier and more 'whole' foods option. I think we'll try this one next year!
Freezing apples is quick and easy, and there are so many different uses for frozen apples. You can use them in pies, as an easy snack, and even make the applesauce we mentioned above with them. Depending on what you plan on using them for, you can freeze apples a few different ways; whole, sliced, or as apple pie filling.
If you choose to freeze your apples whole or sliced you'll want to freeze them on parchment lined cookie sheets first, before transferring them to a freezer safe bag. Obviously apples that have been sliced prior to freezing will be easier to use in recipes that call for sliced apples. You'll also want to dip the apples in a lemon juice/water mixture before freezing. There are also natural preservatives in powder form that you can buy at the store, just something to keep them from browning.
To freeze apples as apple pie filling, just follow your favorite apple pie filling recipe (peel, core, and slice the apples and add the necessary flavorings and seasonings: i.e. cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, sugar), then place the mixture in a pie dish that's been lined with plastic wrap before freezing. Baking is as easy as dumping the apple mixture into a prepared crust, topping with more crust, and baking like you would a frozen pie (generally, 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then 350 degrees for an additional 35-45 minutes).
This year, we opted to peel, core, and slice our apples, and then freeze them in gallon size, freezer safe bags. We didn't freeze them separately on cookie sheets beforehand, so our apples will likely freeze together in a large clump. BUT, we are just planning on defrosting one bag at a time for pies and other recipes, and we shouldn't need to separate out any from each bag.
One of our favorites, dried apples are such a fun and healthy snack. Perfect for lunchboxes and kiddos headed back to school. You can dry apples using a dehydrator, your oven, or even the sun. In addition you can choose to keep them unsweetened or sprinkle a little sugar on top with ground cinnamon.
To dry your apples, begin by coring and slicing them. You can either keep the peel on or remove, whichever you prefer. Having the peel on will add a little more texture and fiber. If you are concerned about your apples turning brown you can dip them in lemon juice, orange juice, or pineapple juice (anything acidic). This will slow the browning.
If you're opting to use your dehydrator, place your apple slices in a single layer and dehydrate for 7-9 hours at 160 degrees. For the oven, place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 145 degrees (or your oven's lowest setting) for 3-5 hours. Remember to rotate your dehydrator racks or flip your slices in the oven every hour.
To test and see if your apples are done, remove a few from the oven or dehydrator and let cool on your counter for 10-15 minutes. As the apple slices cool they will begin to harden. If they're crunchy enough for you, then you're good to go! If not, keep them on a while longer. Keep in mind, the apples slices will not harden or get crunchy when they are still hot from the oven or dehydrator, so they may be done even though they don't seem done straight off the racks.
We chose to dry our apples in the dehydrator this year, and kept them unsweetened but added a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. It took about 8 hours at 160 degrees to get them to our desired crunchiness. We opted out of dipping them in an acidic mixture (although they would have been much prettier had they been) and we honestly ate them before we could even bag them!
Dried apple slices should be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. They should keep for up to a month in the fridge and up to one week at room temperature (maybe longer depending on how long they were dried and how they are stored).
There you have it! SIX different ways to preserve your apples this year. We hope you find a recipe that you love. Let us know in the comments below what method you are planning on trying. Happy apple season!
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