The Fork: The Apples Are Coming
Things are starting to ripen and I'm starting to freak out that I'm not going to be able to EAT ENOUGH YUMMY STUFF—like apples—so I'm starting to freeze and can, freeze and can.
The other day a giant windfall of Gala apples came my way and I decided to freeze them for making pies or crisps later. Here are some tips for processing lots of apples. (I've learned a lot after years of stupid mistakes).
Peel the apples with a long, skinny peeler (less waste than paring knife), then core it using this awesome $9 tool (at right). Then use a paring knife to make slices 1/4-inch thick. That's a good size for apple pies or crisps or whatever.
The only problem I've found with freezing apple slices is that you have too much surface area and that leads to freezer burn. So now I toss about 2 pounds of sliced apples (about enough for a fat pie) with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning (or Fruit Fresh, which does the same thing with Vitamin C and citric acid) and about 1/2 cup sugar (about the amount I use in a pie).
I use a Sharpie to label a gallon-size zippered storage bag: "2# apples + lemon + 1/2 cup sugar," THEN fill it (writing on lumpy bag full of apples= illegible).
Then I have apples in the freezer all winter long and I can make a pie at the drop of a hat.
Freeze smaller amounts for mini apple crisps, which I often make in these little 5 x 9 inch mini Le Creuset dishes (pottery, not enameled cast iron). The little dish is big enough for two piggy portions of apple crisp, four decent-sized portions or 6-8 "I shouldn't even be doing this" plates.
(For goodness sake, go to the hardware store and spend the $18 to get one of these apple picker thingies).
Betty Crocker has a pretty standard apple crisp recipe here. I often use some combination of quick oats, whole wheat flour and an extra special secret ingredient: grape-nuts! My in-laws left a box of grape-nuts here last Christmas and although it makes a really gross cereal, it adds a fantastic crunch to crisp topping.
Those little dishes are available in the Le Creuset store at the outlet mall, although they are also often found for less in the housewares section at Marshall's or TJ Maxx.
If you're going to be processing tons of apples for applesauce or apple butter—or making tomato sauce—a food mill makes quick work of separating the juice and pulp from skins and seeds. Otherwise you have to press the stuff through a sieve which is exhausting and endless.
Of course the best way to do this job is with the fruit and vegetable strainer attachment for the Kitchen-Aid mixer. If you already have the meat grinder then all you need are the strainer parts ($65). Otherwise look for the set ($120). Both are cheaper in stores (Las Cosas, Kitchen Collection at the outlet mall) than on the Kitchen-Aid website.
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Santa Fe Reporter