Monday, October 5, 2009

At-home apple fest!

It's an exciting night at our house. My sister stopped by to watch the Vikings-Packers game. She's a Packers fan, my husband's a Viking fans and I just love to watch Bret Favre. Luckily, I made plenty of snacks this weekend to keep them both happy and content, although they still yell at the TV every once and a while as if they were fans in the stands at the Metrodome.

This last week, the temperatures dipped close to freezing. I realized that there are only a precious few days left in Iowa's apple season. So I woke up early and drove to a local apple orchard, which is located about 20 minutes from home. The orchard's country store offered nearly a dozen different varieties of apples. I came home with Cortland, McIntosh and the beloved Honeycrisp apples. I can't get enough of the Honeycrisp. I've been eating two a day, sometimes dipped with peanut butter. They are so sweet, crunchy and juicy!

When I walked into the orchard store, there was a family standing on the porch eating apple cider donuts. I couldn't resist the sweet, cinnamon aroma, so I broke down and bought a half dozen donuts. I'm so glad I did. I don't think I've ever tried homemade donuts. They were so moist, and I could actually taste the hint of apple cider. I brought the donuts home, and they were gone by the end of the day.

Inspired by my trip to the orchard, I settled into the kitchen and started peeling apples. My first recipe: red-hot applesauce. It's one of my husband's favorites; he remembers his grandma serving this at Christmas.
The not-so-secret ingredient -- red hot candies!

I have to admit, I was a little doubtful about this recipe. Why ruin perfectly good apples with melted sugar candy? But let me tell you, I'm a believer now. This was by far my best batch of applesauce this year. The sauce was sweet and wonderfully packed with cinnamon flavor. And you got to love the rosey red color.

The applesauce went immediately from bowl to my cup. good and cinnamon-y!

I could have stopped at the applesauce, but no, I kept going. A few weekends back, I tried to can apple pie filling for the first time.

Unfortunately, when I put the jars away for storage, I noticed that the rims were sticky, a sure sign that the jars didn't seal properly. So I was forced to turn this beautiful filling into an apple pie -- ASAP!

I'm still trying to perfect the whole pie-making process. I've had to learn from scratch, and I've tried nearly a half dozen crust recipes with varying degrees of success. I finally settled on a lard recipe, which I found on the back of the lard box.
The apple pie filling was good, although not great. It was a little bland, and the apples were softer than I'd like. Next time, I'm going to try Granny Smith apples, even though that means the apples probably won't be Iowa grown.


  1. Teresa, sounds like you and I have similar tastes and ideas! I, too, love the honeycrisp apples. The grocery store in town had them for $.99 per pound so I HAD to buy some! I've been eating at least one a day too...mostly with the peanut butter as well:-) I, also, tried to can apple pie filling this summer and mine didn't look too good. I haven't tried any yet, so only time will tell if it tastes better than it looks. I have tried a couple of pie crust recipes as well and have two that I really like. I will email the one I like best for 2 crust pies. BTW, that applesauce looks DELICIOUS!

  2. 99 cents a pound! Get out! That's the best deal in Iowa. I'll be sure to check out your pie crust recipe. I've still got a bag of McIntosh apples that I need to do something with. I found the chunky cinnamon applesauce recipe on If you want a copy, let me know, and I'll send you the link. I guess I didn't give the apple pie filling enough headspace, because one jar actually oozed out when I took it out of the water bath. The jars looked like they were filled to the brim, but when I opened them up, the filling immediately settled, and there was about an inch of headspace. So I'm not sure about the "physics" of it all. Maybe I need 2 inches of headspace???

  3. I do miss apple harvest time. I grew up in Michigan and we'd go to the orchards and get fresh cider and donuts. I remember going to the cider mills for school field trips. In Florida I still look for Michigan apples, I bought a bag last week. I still think it's funny how they ship Washington apples to the mid-west when they grow the same kinds. (Different ones I understand) My mom used Spies apples for her pies. I like the tart flavor of Ida Reds.

    Anyway, thanks for the memories.

  4. Michigan has some great produce. I'm always excited to see Michigan blueberries in the grocery store in the summer. My local grocery store has more Iowa apples than out-of-state apples right now, but that probably won't last long. It's a great time of year.


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