Our neighborhood market is teeming with apples.
Gala, McIntosh, Empire and Golden. Honey Crisps, Granny Smiths, Fuji and Red Delicious. All from local farms and orchards.
They won’t last long. By the end of the month, we’ll be scraping the bottom of the farmstand barrel, and I’ll be lucky to find an apple that isn’t mealy. So how can I make the most of fall’s fleeting apple season?
Here are 20 ways:
2. Put ’em in a slaw: Julienne apple slices and toss them with thinly sliced fennel and celery. Spoon on a dressing of olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
3. Make apple sauce: Roast apple chunks at 400 degrees in a baking dish with the juice of an orange, a couple tablespoons each of brown sugar and butter, a star anise and a dusting of cinnamon. When tender, mash the apples or puree them in a food processor. Finish with a squirt of lemon juice. Serve warm or cold.
4. Make a roasting bed: Quarter three or four apples, toss the chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper, then place in a roasting pan. Put a pork roast or whole chicken on top, pour in 2 cups of chicken broth, then roast the meat. The apples become burnished and tender and make a lovely side.
5. Grate into batters: This is particularly handy for apples you’ve let sit out too long. Peel them, then grate them on the large holes of a box grater. Wring out their liquid, then stir them into pancake, waffle or bread batters. (You may have to increase your usual cooking time slightly.)
6. Make a pie:
7. Or a cake:
8. Or pair your apples with pears and figs for a fall-flavored crostata:
9. Bake ’em sweet: Remove a few apples’ cores, then fill their center spaces with raisins, nuts, brown sugar or maple syrup, and butter. Stand the apples up in a shallow baking dish, add a cup or so of apple juice, cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees until tender and steamy (about an hour).
10. Dry ’em out: Slice an uncored, unpeeled apple horizontally, as thinly as you can, and place the paper-thin slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for 90 minutes. Leave as is, or dust before baking with powdered sugar (for a sweet treat) or smoked paprika, cumin or sumac for a savory one.
11. Press for juice.
12. Make a savory compote: Place apples, onions, fennel seeds, grainy mustard and a bit of white wine or vermouth in a nonreactive pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the apples are falling-apart tender. Serve with beef, pork or swordfish.
13. Smear ’em with peanut butter.
15. Dunk ’em in fondue, or serve a “reverse” fondue by melting Gruyere, fontina or brie, then spooning the cheese over a platter of apples.
16. Use ’em as stuffing: Finely chop apples, onions, celery and fennel. Saute in olive oil ’til tender, then mix with bread crumbs, salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Butterfly a pork loin, lay down the apple stuffing, reroll the pork and bake at 375 degrees for an hour or so. (Stuff a pork tenderloin, and you can cut your baking time in half.)
17. Dip ’em in caramel, chocolate or a candy coating.
18. Make a sweet compote by combining peeled apple and pear chunks, maple syrup and apple juice in a nonreactive pan. Simmer until the fruit falls apart, then toss in raisins and pecans. Make it really decadent by adding a shot of rum or bourbon. Serve over ice cream.
19. Top slices of apple with cream cheese, raisins and nuts, then place atop golden brown French toast.
20. Eat ’em out of hand. After all, it’s the best (and freshest) way to savor apple season!