Healthy Recipes

Everything Apple This Fall

As the Northwest apple crop comes in, here’s how to incorporate our region’s most famous fruit into your cooking and baking.

I have what must be Seattle’s most prolific apple tree. It is smallish and rarely pruned, yet the tree’s limbs hang low with such abundant fruit that I worry they will snap. By early September, I am giving away bags of apples to all the neighbors. I spend Sundays making applesauce, pies, tarts, cakes, and breakfast breads, and still more apples appear on the tree.

Maybe you have a tree like mine. Or maybe you have a plan to visit one of our many Northwest orchards to gather Galas, Honeycrisps, and red-fleshed Pink Pearls. Then again, you might just peruse the local farmer’s market and see what’s on offer. However you get your hands on them, apples are in season now and there is a lot you can do with them—take it from one who has tried apples in almost every type of recipe!

Easy as Applesauce

The saying should not be “easy as pie,” which in my experience with homemade crust, is not very easy at all. Applesauce, on the other hand, is simple, especially if you have a pressure cooker such as an Instant Pot. The process is foolproof. Cut up ten apples. Add a little water. Add some sugar (or don’t if you have sweet apples). Add a bit of spice, such as cinnamon, and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. Then you pressure cook it all for five minutes, mash, and serve.

I’ve been reading Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi. Between the pages of prose in her tell-all memoir, she also shares recipes that were important during different periods of her life. One is called Applesauce for Teddy, a comfort food for her former partner who eventually passed away. Her version of applesauce calls for unsalted butter, cinnamon, and clove and is served warm. I recommend both the recipe and the book.

Additionally, Lakshmi shares a Chaatpati Chutney recipe in her book which got me thinking, “Could we make apple chutney?” It turns out you can.

This Bon Appétit version of Apple-Raisin Chutney looks and cooks a lot like applesauce, but with a few surprises, namely, crushed red pepper and ground ginger. Or, you can toss a navel orange into the mix to make this Fresh Orange-Apple Chutney. The recipe balances sweet and spicy requiring a combination of jalapeño, cilantro, Golden Delicious apples, red onion, and honey.

Other savory apple recipes to try this autumn include an Apple-Parsnip Soup, Apple and Arugula Salad, and a fun Apple Salsa.

Piece of Cake

As the rains return to the Northwest, our coffee pots and tea kettles are getting a workout. A slice of apple cake or apple strudel with your afternoon cuppa provides quintessential fall comfort food, plus the chance to fill your home with the scent of clove and cinnamon as your goodies bake.

This Brown Sugar Glazed Apple Cake was a hit with my family and is touted as a “healthier” cake because it calls for yogurt and canola oil instead of butter to make it moist. Delicate slices of crisp Gala apple adorn the top of the cake, allowing you feel like a Great British Bake Off contestant when pulling it from the oven. It’s so pretty and tasty, you might make a few extra loaves to surprise neighbors and friends.

In fact, The Great British Bake Off website is an excellent spot to mine apple recipes. Each baked treat is ranked by difficulty level, so you could start with something easy, like Apple Strudel with store-bought filo pastry, and then work your way up to the more challenging Apple Cider Empire Biscuits.

Apple Outing

What we can do this autumn is limited by the pandemic. With many events canceled and theaters shuttered in 2020, Northwesterners are looking for outdoor activities in safe spaces. A family-friendly visit to a nearby apple orchard on a sunny fall day is a smart way to spend a Saturday and stock up on heirloom Gravensteins for all those cakes you plan to bake. The Curran Apple Orchard in Washington has postponed its community cider squeeze, but you can still spend a morning picking fruit on their farm. Jones Creek Farms near Burlington also offers u-pick options, and in Oregon, Kiyokawa is the place to go for apples along Hood River’s Fruit Loop.

Image by olga_d