Autumn: wearing sweaters, hot cider, apple orchards, carving pumpkins, hay rides, colorful leaves
Fall is here! Towards the end of summer, I begin to look forward to autumn. I love the cooler temperatures and watching the leaves turn colors. That means it’s also time for favorite fall treats and activities.
Many of my favorite vegetables and fruits start to ripen in early autumn. It’s not all about pumpkin! It’s a good time to pick some activities with apples! Our whole family is a fan of apples. We like eating them raw and we like them cooked in pies.
In honor of the beginning of autumn and the end of summer, here are some fun things to do with apples.
Fun Fall Activity – Go Apple Picking
If you’re looking for a fun fall activity you can do with the whole family on a crisp and sunny day in September or October, try apple picking. It’s a fun way to get everyone out of the house and in the fresh air. As an added bonus, you get to come home with a big crate of apples that will last you through the coming months.
Start by finding a local apple orchard that lets you come out and pick your own apples. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find several apple farms just outside town, or you may have to take a little drive. The Pick Your Own Website at http://www.pickyourown.org/ is a great resource for helping you find apple orchards in your area.
Once you find an orchard you’re interested in give, them a call and find out what apple varieties they have, and which ones are ready. This is also a great time to learn more about the best times to come pick and what other fun attractions and activities they may have available.
If you’re not familiar with the apple varieties they have available, do a little research and find out what those apples are like. You should be able to get a good idea about flavor, firmness, what the apples are best used for (eating apples vs. baking apples for example), and how long they can be stored. This is good information to have ahead of time. It also allows you to plan what varieties you want to pick and in what quantities.
Get an early start and get to picking apples. Don’t forget to taste them as you go along and have fun. It’s an experience and a great time to not only make family memories, but also teach your kids about where their food comes from. Enjoy your day at the apple orchard and everything they have to offer. If you’re lucky, there may be hay rides and lots of tasty apple treats to sample and buy. You may even get to help make apple cider or learn more about Johnny Appleseed.
Explore the various apple orchards your region has to offer and find a few favorites that you can visit fall after fall. Then come home with your crates of apples and enjoy them all throughout fall and winter.
Make Your Own Applesauce and Apple Butter
We buy a lot of apples in the fall when they are in season. It’s not uncommon for us to end up with more apples than we can eat before they go bad. And while apple pies and apple crisps are amazing, they should only be consumed in moderation. What are you to do then when you have an overabundance of apples? We like to make our own applesauce and apple butter.
Both applesauce and apple butter are easy to make and easy to can. Canning allows you to store them for up to year and the jars won’t take up precious space in your fridge or freezer. As an added bonus, your homemade versions will be healthier and tastier than what you can find at the grocery store. You get to customize your apple preserves to your family’s taste and you know exactly what goes into each jar. Ready to give it a try? Here are my favorite recipes.
Homemade Apple Sauce
8 medium apples
1.5 cups of water
½ cup of sugar (adjust as needed)
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
Start by washing, peeling and coring your apples. Chop them into bite-sized chunks and add them to a large saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients.
The sugar is variable. Start by adding half of it, unless you’re dealing with tart apples. Taste your apple sauce and add more towards the end. The cinnamon is optional. If you like cinnamon in your applesauce, add it, if not, feel free to leave it out.
Bring the apple mixture to a simmer and cook covered on medium heat until the apples are soft. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your chunks and the apple variety.
Mash it into apple sauce with a potato masher, a fork, or an immersion blender. I prefer my applesauce to be a little chunky so I tend to not blend it.
Homemade Apple Butter
Apple butter cooks slow and on low heat. The easiest way to prepare it is in the slow cooker. Here’s what you need:
4 pounds of apples
3 cups of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of salt
Start by peeling, coring and chopping your apples. Put them in the slow cooker. Mix the sugar, salt and spices and pour them over the apples. Put the lid on and cook the mixture on high for one hour. Turn the slow cooker to low and cook it an additional 10 hours. Stir it occasionally. Your apple butter is ready when it is brown and starts to thicken.
3 Fun Ways To Cook And Bake With Apples
Fall is apple time. You can find all sorts of delicious varieties in your local stores, farmers markets, or even fresh from the orchard. With this overabundance of these delicious fruits, let’s talk about some fun ways to cook and bake with apples.
- 1 pound of apples
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. oil plus oil for frying
- Optional: Cinnamon Sugar
Start by peeling, coring, and chopping your apples. Set them aside.
Heat the oil for frying to about 375F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, eggs and 1 tbsp. of oil in a smaller bowl until well combined. Pour this wet mixture into the large bowl and mix until your batter is well combined. Fold in the apple pieces.
Drop the apple batter into the hot oil by the spoonful and fry until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the pot and give the oil a chance to heat back up between batches. Remove the fritters and drain them on a plate lined with paper towels. Toss in the cinnamon sugar as soon as the fritters are cool enough to handle and enjoy while warm.
- 4 large apples
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash your apples and using a melon baller scoop out the core of the apples from the top, creating a hole. Be careful not to scoop all the way to the bottom. You don’t want your filling to leak.
Gently spoon two tbsps. of brown sugar in each apple, top with 1 tbsp. of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place the filled apples into a shallow baking dish.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the apples are tender. The sugar and butter will melt together and start to caramelize. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Apples And Pork Chops
- 6 pork chops
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 apples
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet. A cast iron pan works really well for this. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.
In the meantime, peel, core, and slice the apples. Lay them on top of and around the pork chops in the pan. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the apples.
Cover everything with foil and bake for 90 minutes.
How To Make Your Own Apple Cider
Is there anything better on a warm day in early fall than a glass of fresh pressed apple cider? This popular, all-American beverage is surprisingly easy to make at home when you’re blessed with no overabundance of fresh apples.
Here’s how to make fresh apple cider in your kitchen at home. Grab about ten to twelve apples, wash them, and cut them into quarters. Put them into a large stockpot and add enough water to cover them with several inches of water on top. Add a scant cup of sugar, one tablespoon of ground cinnamon, one tablespoon of ground allspice, and a pinch of salt. The sugar amount is an estimate. Use more if you’re using very tart apples, less for sweeter varieties. You can also adjust the amount of sugar as you cook your cider.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, uncovered for 45 minutes. Turn it to a simmer, cover, and allow your cider to cook for another two hours. Allow the mixture to cool slightly to make it safer to handle. Gently pour it through a strainer to remove the big apple chunks. Strain it again through a cheese cloth to remove the remaining solids. The end result is your apple cider.
From here you have a couple of different options. You can cool it in the fridge and serve it as fresh, cold apple cider. Use it up over the course of a few days, before potentially harmful bacteria can develop.
Since the cider is still warm, you can turn it into mulled cider. Pour the finished apple cider into a saucepan with additional cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves to taste and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour it into mugs and add a slice of orange. This is the perfect hot drink on a cold fall or early winter day.
There ya go! Those are some fun activities to try with apples. Be sure to go pick your own apples and cook up a batch of applesauce! I prefer homemade applesauce to store bought any day!
Comment below and let me know what your favorite family autumn activities are! What would you change about the recipes?