In my last post, I wrote about our recent field trip to a mountain apple orchard. The whole visit was fun and educational, but my favorite part was the orchard store. Jams, jellies, honey, pies, apple bread, cider doughnuts, cider, fried pork rinds, dried apples, cookbooks, fritters, and apples tempted my eyes and palate. Tiny Girl was most intrigued by the variety of foodstuffs for sale and spent time browsing the riches.
Miss Priss and I lingered over the loose apple crates. We held the apples, felt their heft and the smoothness of their skins, noticed their different shapes. Winesap apples, we found, have a rougher skin than Pink Lady apples. Some varieties are "taller" than others, such as Red Delicious, while others are more rotund, such as Rome Beauty. We smelled their different scents: some were spicy, others light and almost flowery. Some were dark and earthy smelling. And the colors! The bright green of Granny Smith, the yellow-green of Mutsu, the rose-blushed yellow-green of Pink Lady, the scarlet and crimson of Arkansas Black, and the wine-dark red of Winesap. . . all gorgeous.
We selected a 1/2 bushel of a variety of apples, which came to 21 pounds! (And at $1.24 per pound this is a bargain!) We eat apples out of hand quite often (I'm munching a Pink Lady right now), but I wanted to branch out. So I decided to try my hand at applesauce first. I found an online recipe for slow cooker applesauce and then read the reviews. Based on the comments, I opted for a basic, no added sugar, no spices recipe:
Ellen's Slow Cooker Applesauce
Slice and peel six to eight, apples, whatever fits best in your slow cooker. I used my medium cooker (4 quarts? 5? I've forgotten). I used Granny Smith, Winesap, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Arkansas Black, and Rome Beauty. Fill slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup apple cider. You may need to add more liquid if you use a larger slow cooker. I bought cider at the orchard. It's flash pasteurized and has no added anything. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Stir every so often. At the end of the cooking time, stir to desired consistency.
Himself, Miss Priss, and I loved this as is. It was tart, sweet, and intensely delicious. Tiny thought it needed some sugar. But she thinks everything needs sugar. Himself was surprised I served it warm; I found I prefer it warm. A drizzling of cream would be scrumptious.
I made the applesauce on Friday, and it was gone by Saturday night. It's that good.
Himself requested a pie. I've never made a homemade apple pie. In fact, I've never made an apple pie, period. Crisps, yes. I adore apple crisp! Saturday afternoon, however, found me wrestling with the particulars of piecrust dough. I used Martha Stewart's recipe, which seemed straightforward. But I had a time rolling it out and then transferring it to the pie plate. I had to start over, re-chilling the dough, twice.
Again, I used a variety of apples. Here they are in water with lemon juice right before I peeled them. I was pleased at the different hues of the flesh. Granny Smith is bright white, Arkansas Black is gold, and Rome Beauty is ivory.
Again, Himself, Miss Priss, and I thought the pie was tasty. Nothing special, really, but fine. Tiny Girl did not care for it. Miss Priss and I were also of the opinion that the dough for the crust would have been better sweetened a tad. If the spirit ever moves me to make another apple pie, I'll remember that.
It turned out looking a bit rustic. (Did I mention I had a hard time with the dough?) I had to patch together the top crust in several places. And my edge-pinching technique needs some work. Ah, well.
I'm planning to bake an apple crisp for book club this Thursday evening. And I foresee more applesauce in my future. I sliced up a few apples and froze them for culinary delights this winter. Oh, and we adore fried apple pies. Maybe I'll attempt those. Hmmm.
I'll let you know.