It's not officially fall until I see a wide selection of apples, from sweet and softish to hard and juicy, decorate trees and slowly dominate stalls at farmers' markets. Not only is this little hand-sized superfood a filling and delicious snack, but according to experts, it is also a great little helper to protect against heart diseases by helping to lower cholesterol levels.
Besides its numerous health benefits, apples can also help maintain a diet high in fiber, which helps with the digestive system. Apples are considered to be some of the most fiber-rich foods at 4.4 grams of fiber per serving and hence should be consumed regularly. Fiber helps assist in water retention in the stool, preventing constipation. Apples will also give you 10% of your daily dose of vitamin C at around 8-9 milligrams per apple.
Besides its nutritional value, apples are also handy in the pantry, as they can be used to ripen other fruit as they emit ethylene – a gas that helps speed up the ripening process. Conversely, if you don't want your fruit to too ripen too soon, keep them away from other types of fruit (yes, my bananas have suffered that fate).
Now let’s dig into the many ways we can enjoy this delicious fruit:
Classic apple cake
When the word apple comes up, it is almost exclusively paired with the word “pie,” but I want to stray from the norm and suggest a cake. This cake couldn’t be more simple to make. With its fluffy dough and fresh fruit, this cake is great for any occasion. For this recipe, you’ll need to get yourself some sour apples to enhance the flavor of the dessert.
Peel the apples and slice them into thin half-moon shaped pieces. Squeeze some lemon over them and mix them so they are completely covered in the juice. The lemon will prevent the apples from turning brown and helps bring out their flavor.
Mix the eggs and sugar until it turns light and fluffy. This may take a few minutes. Then add the milk and butter, but if you prefer, you can warm or melt them together and continue mixing.
Add the flour and baking powder. Mix until you get a smooth and runny dough. Pour the dough into a big baking pan you have prepared beforehand. Place the apple slices into the dough so they are slightly overlapping each other, creating a thick blanket of apple slices.
Bake at about 180 degrees Celsius (356 Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes or more, and once it has cooled off, you can serve it plain, with powdered sugar or whipped cream and enjoy!
You can use the apple slices to form them into shapes you desire. With a round cutter, you can turn them into flowers, for example.
If you have sliced almonds, they would make a great addition to the dough to be added before baking, adding texture and a certain "je ne sais quoi."
Consume it as soon as possible, i.e. a few days, as fresh fruit cakes don’t stay fresh for too long.
Apples in pancakes
Whenever the apples at home were not in their prime anymore, my mother would indulge us with thick apple-rich pancakes for a treat. Nowadays I definitely don’t wait for them to get overly ripe; I just make it. If you are looking for pancake inspiration, make sure to check out these recipes.
Pour all the ingredients except for the oil into a bowl and mix it until you get a thickish dough. Grate the apples and add them to the dough. Depending on the juiciness of the fruit, you might want to add another tablespoon of flour (hence the 8-10 tablespoons mentioned). If the dough is too thin, the apple pieces won’t hold together well so make sure it is not too thin.
Fry in a pan with some oil, and enjoy.
Try adding some raisins or cinnamon to this mix. Feel free to experiment with different sizes of apples – grating them more thickly or even cutting them into small cubes.
If some apples do get forgotten and are at the brink of going bad, then apple jam is the last resort to save them. Apple jam is also a great way to add flavor to other desserts or just to enjoy on your morning toast.
Cut your apples into small pieces and cook them with the amount of sugar you like – taste as you go. Turkish jam usually works with a 1-to-1 ratio, but for me, that's a bit too sweet. I prefer going with a 2-to-1 ratio of 2 kilograms of apples to 1 kilogram of sugar. In fact, even less could work depending on the sweetness of the apples.
Once cooked through, you can run the jam through a blender and transfer it into sterile jars while still hot and seal them off. These jams can stay fresh like this for months (though the color will change with time.) If you want to know more about the difference between jams, marmalades and preserves, check this article out.
If you feel peckish and would like a good snack but don't want anything oily, you could try cutting your apples into thin slices and letting them dry out in the sun. Depending on the type of apples you have, this may take a few days, so I usually let them dry out in the sun for the most part and let the rest evaporate on low heat in the oven.
This is such a great and delicious snack that it has made me seriously consider buying a dehydrator – essentially a low-heat oven that dries out all kinds of foods with less energy consumption than an oven.
Once the fruit is dried out properly, you should keep them in an airtight container.
Apples in salads
You can always go for a classic fruit salad, but my suggestion would be to go the savory route. Pick your veggies and green of the season, chop them up into small pieces and toss an apple or two into the mix. The sweet and juicy taste of apples complements bitter greens so well. My favorite combination for a salad is a mix of red cabbage or white cabbage, carrots, dill and apples. You can drizzle a bit of vinegar and a pinch of sugar as dressing. When I mentioned this recipe, my mother also gave me a history lesson. As lemons weren’t as common in a cold country like Poland (where she used to live), people would use sour apples to recreate that sourness in salads and side dishes.
Apples in toast/grilled cheese
It may sound unusual, but it is very simple and makes for an interesting flavor. Just add a slice of apple into your toast or grilled cheese and enjoy. The heat of the cooking will soften it and pair oh, so well with the cheese of your choice.
What to do with their peels
If you are making so many different dishes with apples, there are bound to be lots of peels leftover. I usually just snack on them while cooking, but sometimes it is just way too much to snack on.
The first choice would be to make tea out of them, but even for that, you do not need much to get the fruity flavor. The second way to use up the peels is to make apple cider vinegar. Here's the trick to getting it right
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