Apple Peel Bourbon (+ An Indian Summer Cocktail)

October 15, 2014

If you're like us, you look to the seasons for what to cook. Get to the market, and we'll show you what to do with your haul.

Today: Associate Editor Marian Bull puts apple peels to good, boozy use.

Apple Peel Bourbon

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You've been good. You've been saving your onion scraps, your kale stems, your wayward strands of parsley and thyme and the fancy butts of your fancy Parmesan. You've turned your bones into soup, your scraps into stock, your rinds into risotto. But what about your apple peels?

Aside from composting and snacking, there aren't too many good uses for that pile of skins, splayed all over your counter, loopy strands tangled up in themselves and looking at you like well what do we do now?

Apple Peel Bourbon

Thanks to Tara Duggan, though, we have a new option: Soak them in bourbon. Because if we learned anything from college, it is this: Soaking fruit in booze is a good thing and will definitely not get you into any trouble, ever.

I stored this idea in the back of my head last year, when we covered Tara's book, Root to Stalk, which is full of ways to use all the little bits of fruits and vegetables you might otherwise toss when your eco-conscious friends aren't looking. She mentioned something about apple peel-infused bourbon, and I thought, this is a smart woman. And now it is apple season and it is brown liquor season, and we have a way to celebrate both without even mulling anything.

Apple Peel Bourbon

As far as DIY projects go, this is as lazy as it gets, so easy you can do it when you're already half a bottle of bourbon deep. The peels take none of your time simmering on the stove or breaking down in your oven. Just shove fistfuls of them into a a big jar and turn a bottle of bourbon upside down. Toss in a few cidering spices. Wait a week, but pull the spices early so you don't find yourself drinking potpourri. 

Apple Peel Bourbon

While I like this on a single rock at the end of a long day, and I'm sure that once things get truly sweatery it will make a top-notch toddy, it's also excellent topped with ginger beer and a fat squeeze of lime, especially now, during this weird Indian summer, when the idea of hot cider gives me the sweats. The ginger really turns it into a full-on spice party and you'll feel so irreverent drinking a fall cocktail that's cold and fizzy and slyly tropical -- like turning a pumpkin spice latte into a piña colada, only not disgusting.

If you're feeling generous, this will also make a beautiful drinkable gift, sealed up in little bottles to help all of your friends get through the holidays. You could even whip it into a boozy whipped cream for a super-meta apple dessert! As for the peels you'll pull out after a week: If you're feeling like you need to put those to use, too, try chopping them and adding them to your applesauce. Or just compost them. You've done enough already. It's time for a drink.

Apple Peel Bourbon

Makes one large bottle of booze

1 1/2 pounds apples, washed and peeled
One 750 milliliter bottle of bourbon
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Indian Summer

Makes one, plus more as needed, until your bourbon is gone

Apple Peel Bourbon
Ginger beer

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • IlovePhilly
  • Dorothy
  • SarahPDX
  • Catherine Lamb
    Catherine Lamb
Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



IlovePhilly October 29, 2014
Sounds totally delicious! Doing it! I usually use them to ferment apple peel vinegar.
Dorothy October 21, 2014
I took a class at Purple Kale (Brooklyn), and they have the same concept. They use every part of a product and nothing goes to waste!
SarahPDX October 20, 2014
Another option is to make a sauce with sugar, a bit of water, apple peels, and bourbon. Drizzle on top of your apple galette.
Catherine L. October 20, 2014
Love love love this! I will be trying it as soon as it decides to turn fall down south.