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In our Phone a Friend column, we'll be asking some of our friends around the food world about how they cook and eat. And we want you to join the conversation, too.
Today: There's no need to feel bogged down by bushels of apples. We polled a few chefs, writers, and cooks to get their advice on what to do when apples abound.
So you've layered on your sweaters, found yourself a seasonal significant other, and made your way to the orchard and back. Now your stand mixer and your bags of apples are competing for counter space, and you're already out of almond butter and honey for snacking, and you need more ideas, before you start planning the World's Biggest Bobbing for Apples Contest.
Lucky for you, we've called on a few professionals to see what they do with an overload of apples -- we hope their responses inspire you, but if they don't, we will definitely win that bobbing contest. No question.
Rose Levy Beranbaum, baking authority and author of The Baking Bible:
Actually, I once had an old-time Baldwin apple tree that bore fruit only every third year, but when the third year rolled around there was an enormous quantity of apples. The first season, I made 24 apple pies (using 144 apples) and stored them unbaked in the big upright freezer. If I were faced with that many apples now, I'd do something a little different: Some would be reserved for eating raw (my mother, who was a dentist, liked to say that the apple is nature's toothbrush!), some I would turn into sauce, some I would leave in a big bowl in the kitchen for the wonderful aroma, and the rest I would package as gifts in the following way:
I would make packages that include my "Rose's Perfect Pie Plate," a laminated copy of my recipe for Luscious Apple Pie (it’s on page 192 of The Baking Bible), and 9 apples (the recipe calls for 6, but it’s nice to offer extra just to eat). My great uncle Nat (of Movado museum watch fame) had a farm in the Berkshires. (He was referred to in the family as a "gentleman" farmer.) Every fall he would send us a box of his apples. We so looked forward to this, and it's a lovely tradition to continue.
Cal Peternell, chef at Chez Panisse and author of Twelve Recipes:
Overloaded and overwhelmed, I would season a pork shoulder and go to bed, letting the aroma of so many apples inspire my dreams as I slept. In the morning, I’d set my sons to peeling apples while the pork braised and I toasted almonds for an apple crisp. Big chunks of apple we would simmer with a splash of water and a half-stick of butter to be mashed into sauce for serving alongside that night’s roast. We’d dice apples for the crisp and the rest would be pickled with vinegar, sugar, sage, and mustard seeds to spoon over cold slices of pork for tomorrow’s lunch.
Cathy Barrow, longtime Food52er and author of the forthcoming Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry:
I've never considered an overload of apples a problem because I tend to get enthusiastic when faced with boxes of different heirloom apples at the farmers' market . It's not unusual to find several pounds of these beauties on my kitchen counter any given fall weekend. There are several go-to preserving recipes that help deal with abundance, but first, I'll make Liz Larkin's Truly Scrumptious Apple Pie or my Autumn in New England Apple Pie. Sustenance, you know?
Most of those ruby pomes are destined for jars, of course. These are my go-to's: Spiced Apples, Apple Pie Jam, and Mint Jelly. Any leftover apples become applesauce which I spice up, and then simmer in the slowcooker overnight. Wake up to apple butter and the most amazing smell all through the house.
Finally, with the two or three that languish after all this activity, tuck them in a grilled cheese sandwich and serve a gooey treat for dinner with warm tomato soup. Apple season is sensational.
Mimi Thorisson, blogger and author of the upcoming A Kitchen in France
Apples are the most comforting fruit of autumn, and the fun part is that they always come in big numbers. Faced with an abundance of apples, my first instinct is to make applesauce with salted butter, cloves, and cinnamon. My kids love applesauce as a snack after school, and I love serving it with a good old-fashioned pork roast. My eldest daughter Mia bakes a delicious apple tart with cinnamon and salted butter -- it’s her speciality and she bakes at least 3 every week. And if I have a few apples to spare, I’ll cut them into small chunks and give them to our dogs -- did you know apples are good for dogs? (Just make sure to take the seeds out!)
What would you do with a few bushels of apples? Tell us in the comments!