Make the most of your fall apples

They’re perfect for cooking, carving, crafts

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Apples aren’t just for eating.

With Michigan’s bumper crop this year, many folks are awash in apples.

And there’s more ways to use them than you might think.

Of course, eating them out of hand is delicious and nutritious. One apple equals about 1 cup of fruit, which is half the recommended daily serving.

They’re also a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

Before you crunch away, consider the possibilities: Apples are culinary workhorses for many recipes from main dishes to baked goods. Think pies, cakes, sautés and sauces.

But that’s not all, folks. Let your creative (apple) juices flow and incorporate these natural beauties into your fall decor.

Here are five fun ways to make the most out of your apples:

Cooking

For any dish, use a firm apple that will hold its shape for a great presentation on the plate. Gala, Fuji and Empire apples work well.

Apple cubes are a great addition to bread or rice stuffings. Ginger Gold apples cooked with butternut squash can add a hint of spiciness to squash soup.

Any variety of sliced apple can add crunch to salads and sandwiches.

Softer flesh apples, like Yellow Delicious and McIntosh, make great applesauce or apple cider.

Apples are a good match for turkey breast, grilled chicken and just about any pork dish such as Pork Loin Filet with Sage-Seasoned Apples.

Baking

Most apple varieties are suitable for baking, but some hold up better than others. For pies, use firm apples like Northern Spy or Ida Red.

For pies, consider using a mix of apple varieties, which will hold the pie’s texture while baking.

For breads and muffins, both firm or soft-flesh apples will work. Both tart and sweet apples work well in baked goods such as apple crisps.

Carving

Fruit carvings have a long history, which many sources say originated in Thailand. For a truly unique addition to a fall table centerpiece, consider carved apples.

Doug Gahns, an instructor at Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute, said carving apples can be as simple as making a bird or as intricate as carving flowers and other designs.

But whatever you create, Gahns said it’s important to brush it with lemon juice to prevent browning for several hours and be sure to use a sharp paring knife.

“These [apple carvings] are great as a holiday buffet centerpiece or for a fall party,” he said.

Place card holders

Hosting an autumn gathering? Let apples be the guide for guests.

For place settings, carefully slit the stem and insert a place card with a name.

Or you can get crafty and make your own place card designs.

Cut leaf shapes from green or red paper.

Make a few lines on them for veins if you like and add a person’s name.

Tape a piece of floral twine to the leaf cutout and wrap the twine around the stem.

For a buffet, use either method to identify dishes. Just add the name of the dish on the leaf or place card and set the apple in front of the dish.

Candleholders

This is the easiest way to add fall inspiration to any table setting.

Take a round tea light and hold it on top of the stem end of an apple.

Use a paring knife to cut around the tea light. Cut down at least a quarter-inch. Make several cuts in the circle.

Use a melon baller to scoop out enough flesh to hold the tea light.

Brush the inside of the apple with lemon juice to prevent browning before placing a tea light in the hollowed-out circle.

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