November 17, 2015

Preserving Apples: 3 Simple Ways to Enjoy Local Fruit This Winter

Harvest season is winding down, and we’re busy this week, preserving apples. Today we’re putting up 2 more bushels for the winter. I pulled out my canning book, and now my house smells like apple cinnamon potpourri and I couldn’t be happier about it!

A visit to a you-pick orchard or farm stand is a great way to spend a fall afternoon if you don’t happen to have an apple tree in your backyard.  (You can find a local orchard or market HERE.) You can often get the best deals at the end of the season.

The nutritional benefits of apples

The old adage goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Here are a few reasons why this is true!

  • One medium apple (about 3″ in diameter) contains about 95 calories, no fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and more than 4 grams of fiber.
  • The phytonutrients in apples can positively affect insulin production to help regulate blood sugar.
  • The consumption of apples can have a positive influence on the bacterial balance of the digestive tract.
  • Much of the apple’s nutrients can be found in the skin, particularly beneficial polyphenols such as quercetin.
  • Apples contain substantial amounts of Vitamin C, the B vitamins, and potassium.
  • Regular consumption of apples has been proven to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s.

Method #1: Storing apples in a cold room

If you have the right location, you can store apples for several months.  Here are some tips on keeping fresh apples over the winter:

  • Choose the very best apples from your bushels. Opt for firm apples with unblemished, unbruised skin.
  • The thicker skinned, more tart varieties will stay good for the longest time.
  • Wrap them individually in newspaper to keep them from being in direct contact with one another.
  • Place them loosely packed in a cardboard box.
  • Don’t store them near potatoes. Potatoes release a gas that causes apples to spoil more quickly.
  • Store them at 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit for the longest shelf life. Good locations are basements, root cellars, or unheated pantries.

Method #2: Making apple chips

In theory, apple chips are a great way to preserve apples without the need for a cold cellar. In reality, they are a delightful snack that will be gone within a week, no  matter how many you make.

You can make these with no added sugar and cinnamon, but we truly love this as a sweet treat. If it helps your conscience, it contains far less than any commercial fruit treat you could buy.

Ingredients:

  • Apples (duh)
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Organic sugar
  • Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Cut the apples into 1/8 inch thick slices.
  2. If you are concerned about discoloration, you can toss the slices in lemon juice. I don’t worry about the discoloration because the cinnamon makes them look brownish anyway. I don’t normally use lemon juice, but you can if you want to.
  3. In a bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon in the ratio that pleases you. I use about a 1/4 cup of sugar to a teaspoon of cinnamon, and replenish it when necessary.
  4. Toss the slices in your sugar and cinnamon mixture.

There are two ways you can dry them from here on out. You can use a dehydrator or your oven. I use a 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator because I do a lot of dehydrating.

Dehydrator instructions:

  1. Place the slices in a single layer on your dehydrator tray. I use these inexpensive dehydrator sheets to line my trays for easy clean-up.
  2. If your dehdrator doesn’t have temperature settings, dry the slices on low for about 20 hours.
  3. If you do have temperature settings, dry the slices at 135 degrees for about 10 hours.
  4. When you take them out, they won’t seem crispy, but if you let them sit before putting them in a jar, they’ll crisp right up in a couple of hours.

Oven instructions:

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Set your oven for 200 degrees.
  3. Place apples on the parchment paper in a single layer.
  4. Dry the apple slices for 4-6 hours, or until almost crisp.
  5. When you take them out, they won’t seem crispy, but if you let them sit before putting them in a jar, they’ll crisp right up in a couple of hours.

In theory, these would be great lunch box treats, but unless you hide them, they won’t last that long! After they’ve cooled completely, put them in a Mason jar or gallon Ziplock bag.

Method #3: Canning to preserve apples

Canning is my favorite way to preserve anything, and apples are no exception. Below, find the links to thorough instructions for canning apples. Because fruit is naturally high in acid, these can all be preserved using a water bath canner.

Basic apple sauce

This apple sauce is pure enough to use for baby food, because it contains only two ingredients: apples and water. With it, you will get the flavor of fresh, delicious apples all winter long. I incorporate the peels into my apple sauce because it’s where the fiber and vitamins lie. This apple sauce can also be used as an ingredient in baking or cooking because it’s completely neutral.

Spiced apple sauce

Here’s a twist on ordinary apple sauce. There’s still no sugar, but it’s jazzed up with cinnamon, ging.er, allspice, and cloves. Your house will smell a-flippin-mazing while this is on the stove.  Save the cooking liquid for the next recipe!

Spiced apple toddy

You will definitely thank me for this one! After making spaced apple sauce, the reserved liquid is the perfect basis for a hot winter beverage. All of the warming spices that were added will making you feel toasty from the inside out. This is also a nice treat for someone suffering from a cold or flu.

Apple filling

This apple filling is basically an instant dessert. You can warm it and serve it over ice cream, stir some into vanilla yogurt, or use it as a filling for a pie or a crisp. You are only limited by your imagination! This recipe DOES NOT contain any type of thickener. If you’re baking with it, you may want to add a teaspoon of flour or starch when you open the jars. I don’t like using the weird commercial thickeners like Clearjel.

How do you preserve apples?

What is your favorite method for preserving apples for the winter? Please share in the comments below!

References

The canning recipes are from my book, The Organic Canner.

Daisy Luther

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, leaving all links intact, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio. Daisy Luther is a single mom who lives in a small village in the mountains of Northern California, where she homeschools her youngest daughter and raises veggies, chickens, and a motley assortment of dogs and cats.   She is a best-selling author who has written several books, including The Organic Canner,  The Pantry Primer: A Prepper's Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget, and The Prepper's Water Survival Guide: Harvest, Treat, and Store Your Most Vital Resource.  Daisy is a prolific blogger who has been widely republished throughout alternative media. On her website, The Organic Prepper, Daisy uses her background in alternative journalism to provide a unique perspective on health, self-reliance, personal liberty, and preparedness. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,  and Twitter,.

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