How to Use Extra Apples

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The easiest way to preserve apples — if you have the right storage space — is to “cellar” them.

Help! We have a problem we never thought we’d have — too many apples. Our trees are “overbearing,” and we don’t know what to do with all the fruit!

How to Use Extra Apples

Congratulations! And I’m glad you don’t want to let any of your harvest go to waste. The easiest way to preserve apples — if you have the right storage space — is to “cellar” them. Firm, unbruised apples can keep four months or longer if they’re stored at 32 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 to 90 percent humidity. (Some folks wrap each one to keep them from touching.)

Another classic way to process lots of apples is to make applesauce. Just simmer cored and peeled quarters in water until tender, mash through a food mill (actually, Golden Delicious apples make nice chunky applesauce if unmashed), add sweetening to taste (none is fine by me), pack hot in clean canning jars, and process in a hot water bath (10 minutes for pints, 15 minutes for quarts).

Then there’s apple butter, which is made by simmering one part cider with two parts peeled and cored apples, stirring occasionally, until the mass gets very thick (this can take several hours). Add sweetening and spices (cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves), to taste, and process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a cider press, your problems are over. Make a lot of cider. It can be frozen (if you have a not-yet-full freezer) or canned by processing 30 minutes in a hot water bath. (It won’t taste as good as fresh cider, but it’ll beat the stuffing out of store-bought apple juice.) If you don’t have a cider press, find people who do. They’ll probably be glad to work out a reasonable barter.

There’s a world of other possibilities, like drying (six pounds of apple slices should dry in a 145 degree Fahrenheit oven in four to 12 hours), and making apple jelly and apple leather. You can even carve and sell apple-head dolls (they wrinkle up beautifully when the heads dry), or just sell some of the apples themselves.

No, when it comes to apples, you can’t have too much of a good thing.

Susan Glaese, author of Compost