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What to Do with Your Harvested Apples for the Holidays

Updated on November 1, 2012
hard apples
hard apples | Source

Harvesting

Standard apple trees take 5-8 years before first fruit and up to ten years to get into full production mode. We’re looking at 4-21 bushels per tree every year, and will produce for 30-32 years. Dwarf apples will fruit in 2-4 years and will yield a bushel or two each year. Pick your apples before they are fully ripe and on a dry day, as damp fruit will spoil quickly. Then store it in a cool place right after it is picked, unless you plan to use it right away. Pick by hand, and safely. Using a ladder is fine, but may times it is best to use an apple picker, which is a wire cage on a long pole. It is best to sort the apples while picking. The bruised, soft and very ripe ones should be used immediately and will be best for applesauce. The apples with wormholes can be given to pigs and cattle, which is what I used to do when I was living in Maine. Store the greenest and soundest into storage, and never be rough with them, as bruised apples will spoil quickly. Even if the apples have fallen from a tree and no damage is showing, they are bruised. Make apple cider out of these drops. The fastest way to harvest for cider is to simply shake the tree. If the wasps are hanging around, get your apples late in the day to avoid snaring any wasps with your apples. If you sprayed your tree(s) with chemical pesticides, make certain that you wash them before use.

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Root Cellar Preservation

The hard apples are best for storage—winesaps, imperials, granny smiths, etc. Some apples should be harvested after frost, and these will be the ones to store for winter. The later that they are stored the longer they will last. They keep better on the tree than they do in the root cellar. For apples to be stored, keeping them cool is vital. If you try to keep them in the kitchen for even a couple of days, they will begin to shrivel, lose their crispness, and rot where they are placed. Pick over the apples occasionally, as rot will spread from the bottom of the box on up. Apples touched by frost will be brown on that spot, and no good. The best way to cool your cellar for storage is to open it up at night, and close it tightly during the daylight. If you’re fortunate, the apples might keep until spring, but don’t allow them to freeze. You can even insulate your boxes of apples under straw, in a box lined with crumpled newspapers and a blanket or two atop them.

applesauce
applesauce | Source

Canned Applesauce

Applesauce is best for fruit that will not keep for any length of time. Cut fruit into pieces, simmer until soft in as little water as possible to prevent sticking. Put through a food strainer or a mill, and add sugar to taste. Reheat to simmering(185 to 210 degrees F) and pack hot into hot jars, leaving a headspace of a half inch. Adjust your lids and waterbath the jars. From sea level to 1,000 feet above sea level, process pints 15 minutes and quarts 25 minutes. From 1,001 to 3,000 feet, process your pints 20 minutes and quarts 25 minutes. From 3,001 to 6,000 feet, process pints 20 minutes and quarts 30 minutes. Above 6,000 feet process pints 25 minutes and quarts 35 minutes.

Apple-Rhubarb Sauce

Cook rhubarb in spring and freeze it. When the apples come on, combine half and half with applesauce for a wonderful side dish or dessert.

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Baked Apples

Peel and core, unless they are small or never sprayed. Place in shallow pan with a piece of butter and a dollop of honey in the center of each apple. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Add 3 cups water to your pan and bake covered at 375 degrees until juicy and tender. If you bake uncovered, baste frequently. Serve with whipped cream or hard sauce, which is brandy, butter and sugar. For the holidays, stuff the empty center with pitted, mashed dates, or raisins and nuts before baking.

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Apple Ketchup

Peel and quarter about a dozen round, tart apples. Stew until soft with as little water as possible, then put them through a sieve. For each quart of sieved apple, add a cup of sugar, 2 finely chopped medium onions, 2 cups vinegar, a tablespoon salt, and a teaspoon each black pepper, cloves, dry mustard, and cinnamon.

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Unpressed Cider

You’ll need a bushel of good eating apples that aren’t sprayed, been lying on the ground for a long period of time, or partially rotten. Clean and cut your apples. Put them through a chopper or grinder, saving your juice. Then squeeze your grindings through a strong cloth bag.

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Apple Butter

Boil six cups apple cider in stainless steel or enamel pan. While cider is boiling down, core and quarter about ten pounds apples. Add apples when cider is ready and continue cooking slowly until apples are tender. Put through your colander. Put butter back into your pan and add 1 ½ cups brown sugar(or more, to taste depending on the sweetness of the apple that you are using). Optionally, you could add a pinch of salt and ¼ teaspoon each allspice and ground cinnamon. Continue to cook over very low heat, stirring constantly, until cider and sauce no longer separate when you place a spoonful on a plate. Then pour into containers for canning and freezing.

Cider Tea

Half cider and half tea, flavor with lemon juice and sweeten to taste. For a crowd, combine 4 cups cider, 2 cups tea, and the juice of a lemon and two oranges. Then sweeten to taste.

Cider Ale

Combine 2 cups each of cider and ginger ale, a cup of orange juice, ¼ cup lemon juice, and sweeten to taste.

Here's a few things that will surely keep you intrigued for those holiday meals. Most of these recipes are fairly straightforward. Keep in mind that you can always use cider from the organic market or the grocery store to do some of these recipes. Enjoy!

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    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      What a great thing to do! Nothing like a fresh, crisp apple for a treat.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is interesting. I actually haven't heard of apple ketchup. So, thanks for the info.

      This Fall I went apple picking with the girls and was so excited about it that I even hubbed about it too but we didn't bake or cook the apple. We packed and gave them away to the homeless. It felt good!

      Awesome hub, very useful. Voting up and sharing.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

      Haha, guess that's enough to get me started!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Letitia, you can spread it on toast, use it with pork, put it in oatmeal, have it with peanut butter on a sandwich, have it plain and chilled for dessert, slathered on biscuits...need more ideas?

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 4 years ago from Paris via California

      Now I wish I had an almond tree AND an apple tree! Nature's abundance. I love the idea of apple butter, so may try that with apples from the organic market, but I'm not sure how to use it. What do you put it on?

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, homesteadpatch! Fruits and veggies are not limited to standard fare, anymore.

    • homesteadpatch profile image

      homesteadpatch 4 years ago from Michigan

      Apple Ketchup, now there is something I haven't tried! We have all but forgotten that ketchup isn't limited to Tomatoes. Voted up!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      gamby, all you need to do is bookmark it, then you won't have to keep looking for this piece. Thanks for your support, and enjoy the apple recipes.

    • gamby79 profile image

      gamby79 4 years ago

      I will definitely be coming back to this hub time and time again as I try using all the valuable information you share. Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Yes, Linda, they sure would. I like the ones with the fillings inside.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very useful hub! I love all the recipes - they are a delicious way to use apples. The baked apples would be a wonderful treat for Christmas.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      shiningirisheyes, you are so right. Very little can beat those smells that emanate from the kitchen.

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      My Mother makes an outstanding applesauce. Not only do I enjoy the delicious outcome, the house smells amazing!

      Great write.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, kashmir. There are so many great recipes out there, I wanted to just include a few, but it sure was a hard one.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi my friend all great ideas to use those harvested apples around the holidays. I have made the baked apples before, their yummy !

      Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Well, most of these are New England recipes, so that could be why!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Klara! My mother used to make everything when I was growing up, pies, applesauce, apple butter. We had several trees, including a crabapple, too.,

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glad you liked 'em, CC! So, what did you make?

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      What rock was I under? I love apples but I've never, never heard of apple butter and the like. Thanks for watching my back.

    • profile image

      klarawieck 4 years ago

      Can you believe it that I've never seen an apple tree in my life? Apples are special to me, because the first time I ever saw an apple was the day after I found out my father had died. My aunt, who lived in the countryside, had brought one for me. I'm not sure where she got it from, but I remember biting into it and not liking its texture. Ha! I eat apples all the time now.

      Great hub, Deb!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      These all look delicious and I learned some things about apples. I bought a local bag of them at the store - but they're still in the plastic bag. Getting those out now! :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL....not sure about that happening, but the apple cider will be great. :)

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Not only will your cider press be useful for apples, you can press chinese cabbage and the other ingredients for eggrolls!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I want a cider press; of course, I want apples trees too. LOL We will be planting three this next spring, and then I can work on getting the press. Love apple butter, and I didn't know apples would last that long in a cellar. Great info Deb!

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