Nothing is more American than apple pie – unless it’s baked apples or apple juice. Here are a few recipes you might want to consider using with your homegrown or orchard-bought apples this season – or year ’round.
Slow Cooker Baked Apples
Ready to make baked apples in your slow cooker? Here’s what you’ll need:
- 6 cored apples
- 1/3 cup apple juice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- nuts, your preference, to top
Turn your slow cooker on high and let it get hot. Mix the sugar with the butter and cinnamon in a bowl and then fill the cored-out apples with the mixture. Set the apples, upright, in the bottom of the cooker, and gently pour the juice all around the apples. Place the cover on the cooker and let it cook for 2 or 3 hours until the apples are soft and mushy. Slow cookers temperature settings vary, so keep a watch on the apples.
Homemade Apple Juice
It’s easier than you think to make homemade apple juice – and it’s so much yummier than store-bought! Here’s what you do:
First, wash the apples in cold water and then chop them up with peels and cores intact. Place the pieces in a large pot (preferably one with a thick bottom to avoid easy burning) and add about 4 or 5 inches of water. Put the lid on and turn up the heat; when it gets hot, cook the apples on medium until the pieces are thoroughly soft.
If you like unfiltered juice you have two choices:
- Unfiltered juice: pour and mash the mixture through a sieve and collect the rich juice below in a large pot. Then, allow the mixture to cool, and put it in the refrigerator for a day or two. Finally, pour off the clear liquid on the top to drink and toss the rest of the mixture to the chickens or compost pile.
- For filtered juice, line a colander with cheese cloth or coffee filter, and let the apple mixture’s juice ooze through.
Apple juice is the only food I know of that can be frozen, and when thawed is exactly the same quality it was when fresh. Don’t fear freezing the goodness of apple juice as it won’t let you down when you drink it. Amazing stuff!
Nan’s Apple Pies
My grandmother, Nan, passed away a few years ago at the age of 102. She was born in 1903 and taught me a lot of old ways. I asked her once how bad the depression era was on her and her family. She told me they were so self-sufficient that they never noticed the depression! Imagine that! Another thing she taught me was to make the most delicious little apple pies.
There is no actual recipe, just general directions, as you will see. When Nan made homemade biscuits – there were no other kind of biscuits for her – she made extra dough some days for apple pies.
The pies began by rolling out a thin layer of dough about a quarter inch thick, and about the size of a small dinner plate. On half of the dough, she dolloped apple butter. The rich, concentrated apple butter was her secret to fabulously rich apple pies. Either bought or homemade apple butter is fine. After smoothing out the apple butter to within an inch of the edges, she placed a few little pieces of butter and sprinkled it with cinnamon then she folded over the other half and crimped, sealed and folded the edges together.
Finally, she pierced the pies a few times on top to let some of the steam escape, before placing them on a lightly greased baking pan and baking them in her hot kitchen oven. She used an old fashioned firewood or coal kitchen cookstove until the mid-1990’s, but finally gave in and entered the 20th century just before the 21st century arrived; she bought a fancy electric oven. Try baking these in a wood-fire cookstove and enjoy the wonder of it all, or bake them at 350 degrees in a regular oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Dusted with a powdered sugar and cinnamon topping makes them extra special.
Apples bring autumn to mind. Baked apples, apple juice and delicious apple pies make autumn even more special when they are homemade. Enjoy.