Did you just get home from a crisp afternoon of apple picking? Did you plunk down your bucket of apples and wonder, “Now what?’’
Well fret no more.
Here are 15 creative recipes and craft ideas for your apples.
15. Barbecue sauce
Spice up your meats with an apple-flavored barbecue sauce. Before you clean out the grill for the last time this fall, turn some of your orchard loot into a finger-lickin’ marinade.
Apple City Barbecue Sauce
Makes 3 cups
With this recipe, Mike Mills won the Grand Sauce Award at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship International Barbecue Cook-Off in 1992. It is smooth and on the thin side, and it seeps into the meat.
1 cup ketchup
2/3 seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cupt apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1/3 cup grated onion
2 teaspoons grated bell pepper
1. In a large saucepan, combine the ketchup, rice vinegar, apple juice or cider, cider vinegar, brown sugar, soy or Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, white pepper, cayenne, and bacon bits. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the apple, onion, and bell pepper.
2. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring often, or until it thickens slightly.
3. Allow to cool, then pour into sterilized glass bottles. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
14. FrankenApple and other friends
Don’t let pumpkins have all the fun! Decorate your apples to make an entertaining centerpiece that is also a great craft project for kids of all ages.
These apples are dressed up for Halloween, but consider transforming your own into animals or using them as a canvas to create fall scenes.
Most craft stores sell adhesive-backed foam, used above, that can be cut into shapes. However, raisins, candy, nuts, beans, and other fruit can also be incorporated into your project.
Apples will keep for weeks if left outside during crisp autumn nights. However, before you set them out, secure your decorations with glue for extra hold, and beware that animals may also be attracted to your creations.
13. Apple sauce
Upgrade snack time with a fresh version of this classic treat. Then go to the head of the class by adding red hots.
(From “The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook,’’ Workman, 1985)
Makes about 7 cups
20 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Place the apples in a large saucepan and pour in the cider. Simmer, uncovered, over medium high heat for 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and continue to cook, stirring to break down the apples until it is a chunky sauce.
Punch up a classic treat with Red Hots candy.
Red Hots applesauce
You’ll need a food mill to make this applesauce. Use any apples you have or mix several varieties.
8 medium apples
1/2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon Red Hots
Without peeling the apples, cut them into 2-inch pieces
1. In a saucepan, combine the apples, water, cinnamon, and Red Hots. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to its lowest setting, and cover the pan.
2. Simmer the apples for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they are pulpy. Add more water if necessary.
3. Work the apples through a food mill. Serve warm.
12. Colorful centerpieces
Use apples to create a classic centerpiece or table decoration. From Golden Delicious to Paula Reds, the variety of fruit colors and hues allows you to easily match fall-themed table linens.
Craft stores and even your own front yard offer many interesting elements to help dress up your table. Here are some ideas:
-Line up a column of similarly colored apples for a minimalist display that allows plenty of room for your serving plates.
-Create a simple geometric design by interspersing apples with groups of interesting twigs or small branches from your yard.
-Match apples with brilliant fall leaves and tinted candles for a colorful display.
-Punch up an arrangement of fall vegetables by including bright Jersey Macs or Newtown Pippens.
-Cut a groove into the tops of your apples and use them as vases for herbs, fall blooms, or dried flowers. Add a small handful of decorative pebbles to hold your stems in place.
11. Apple Butter
For those who have never had it, apple butter, like nut butters, dresses up breakfast toast and entices you to eat out of the jar.
Fruit butter novices looking for a chance to test the waters should try Martha Stewart’s apple butter. This simple recipe doesn’t involve formally preserving the apples, so your butter won’t keep for long. If you like the idea of having delicious fall fruit this winter, you will need to can your apples.
Apple butter varieties depend on the chef’s taste for spice. Search the Internet for a recipe that sounds good to you, or try this basic recipefrom the USDA.
Before you start canning fruit or making preserves, educate yourself on proper procedure to minimize the risk of spoilage. To get started, check out the USDA canning guide.
10. Seasonal soap
Glycerin soap is both quick and easy to make. Many craft stores sell bricks of premade soap, dyes, and fragrances. To make, follow the directions on the package to melt the soap, usually in the microwave, then pour it into a mold. Drip in enough dye to get the color you want and add your favorite fragrance.
Warm apples are a quintessential fall smell. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to replicate that smell using real apples. The natural scents in many apple fragrances are derived from distilling essential oil from the fruit’s skin, and it’s difficult to make.
Bypass the headache; purchase apple essential oil and grab the cinnamon from your spice rack. As pictured, clear glycerin soap also nicely displays glitter and slivers of dried apple. Shaped soap molds or cookie pans let you make fun, seasonal shapes.
Pair sweet and tart apple chutney with rich meats to balance your meal. Originally a sweet, sour, or spicy Indian relish, now there are as many chutneys as there are cooks that make them. Here, Chef Raymond Ost at Sandrine’s Bistro in Cambridge shares one of his delicious fruit chutneys.
Sandrine’s Apple Chutney
Makes about 4 cups
At Sandrine’s in Harvard Square, chef and part-owner Raymond Ost often serves fruit chutneys with meat and poultry dishes. Ost prefers Cortland apples for apple chutney, but he’ll use any red apples if they aren’t available. His recipe has been adapted for the home cook.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5cupsdiced, peeled Cortland apples
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoom red wine viegar
2 tablespoos honey
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch groung cinnamon
4 drops Tabasco sauce
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the apples and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the onion and saute until tender.
4. Add the tomato and saute 1 minute.
5. Add to the apples. Add the remaining ingredients and mix gently. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
6. The chutney will keep about a week in the refrigerator.
If you notice precious few late-summer tomatoes still left in your garden, let apples take the lead in a zesty salsa. Use Jonathans or Northern Spies for a tart salsa; Macouns or Golden Delicious for a sweeter taste. Whichever variety you choose, apples add crisp juicy flavor to a family dinner favorite.
Apple Black Bean Salsa
Makes about 3 cups
Jalapeno peppers can range from mild to fiery. To avoid flavor jolts, taste a tiny bit before deciding how much to add. To prevent the apples from discoloring, add them to the bowl with the lime juice.
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
1 cup diced unpeeled apple
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
Salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix gently with a large spoon.
Apples are a versatile medium for decorative crafts. They keep for a long time, longer if kept cool, and their iconic appearance will enliven your fall table.
Here, a circular hole has been carved into the top of an apple to fit a votive candle. For an exact measurement, turn your apple top-side down and press it into a votive that has been burned down enough to expose the rim. The edge will cut a mark into the apple, giving you a guide along which to cut.
You can also tuck fragrant herbs or cinnamon sticks into your cut, securing them between the side of the candle and the apple.
A fun idea for your table is to create a bobbing-for-apples centerpiece by floating your apple votives in a bucket of water. If you try this, test-float your apples before you cut them. Every apple has a different center of buoyancy, so not all of them will float upright.
Move over, blueberries! It’s time for apple muffins to take center stage. These treats make a substantive breakfast, but they are also sweet enough to serve as dessert. Save pie-making for company, and throw together these muffins for an everyday snack you can pack in your lunch.
Jane Keown Oliver’s Favorite Apple Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Jane Keown Oliver, of Arthur D. Keown Orchards in Sutton, likes to use Opalescent apples for this recipe.
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped, peeled apple
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
2. In another bowl, beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together, using a wire whisk. Add the eggs and beat for 30 seconds.
3. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour mixture, along with the apple, nuts and buttermilk. Mix just until the flour is moistened; if you overmix, the muffins will be dry.
4. Line a muffin tin that has a dozen 2 1/2-inch cups with muffin papers, or grease the tin. Spoon the batter into the cups and bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.
Whip out the blender to make fall drinks reminiscent of summer. If you prefer nonalcoholic drinks, fruit smoothies are a tasty way to prune your fruit bowl. Most smoothies start with crushed ice and milk, ice cream, or yogurt. Apple purists can use apple sauce and cider instead of milk or yogurt.
To your foundation, add whatever fruit you want. Peaches, bananas, and strawberries are great paired with apples, but there are no rules. Note: Core, and if you prefer pulp-free beverages, peel your apples before adding them to the blender.
For an alcoholic cocktail, try apple sangria. Let apples dominate: Add generous amounts of juice and diced fruit to your basic sangria recipe. While everyone makes sangria slightly differently, its basic components include red wine, fruit juice, soda water, chopped fruit, and, if you like it fancy, brandy or a flavored liqueur.
Get started with the following recipe, which you can modify to feature apples.
Red wine sangria
Adapted from Cambridge hot-spot Dali
1 pint strawberris, sliced
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
1 large orange, sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange brandy (such as Grand Marnier)
1/2 cup orange juice
1-1 1/2 bottles dry red Spanish wine (such as Vina Borgia)
Club soda or sparkling water, to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries, peaches, and orange.
2. Add the sugar, brandy, orange brandy, and orange juice. Stir gently, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
3. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if you like. If it is too sweet, add wine to dilute it. Pour over ice, add a splash of soda water, and garnish with a piece of fruit from the sangria.
For a nonalcoholic version, try Martha Stewart’s red–apple sangria.
4. Dried apples
If fresh apples are hardy, dried ones are versatile: Use them to create yummy snacks or great autumn decorations. Once you know how to dry an apple, you can create any number of dried crafts.
Display fragrant fruit flakes to add a pleasant scent to your home, string wedges into a wreath, or wrap one of your homemade soaps with a slice of dried apple to give as a gift. You can also enjoy dried apples as a snack. However, please note that drying apples for consumption usually involves baking and is a separate procedure from drying for crafts. Try the following refreshing dessert.
No time to book a spa day? Natural fruit acids refresh your skin, so pamper yourself with an apple-derived facial.
One of the simplest recipe mixes 1 grated apple with 4 tablespoons of honey, and 1 or 2 tablespoons of uncooked oats. Apply the mixed ingredients to your freshly washed face and leave on for 10 minutes. Remove the mask with warm water. Though you may be tempted, do not eat the mask.
If you’re interested in more complex rejuvenation, check out this facial recipe.
2. Apple cider
Even if you don’t have a 14-layer professional cider mill like the one shown above, you can press your own apples into delicious cider at home. While recipes abound on the Internet, the basic method for homemade cider is to run clean apples through a food mill, then press the pulp through cheese cloth with a rolling pin to extract the juice.
If you purchased cider while apple picking, here’s a unique way to enjoy it:
Hot Mulled Apple Cider with Clove-Studded Quince
(From “Good Spirits: Alcohol-Free Drinks for All Occasions’’ by Marie Simmons and Barbara J. Lagowski, Plume, 1986)
Makes about 16 8-ounce servings
5 whole cloves
4 quarts fresh apple cider
1 stick cinnamon
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
1. Rub fuzz off quince with damp paper towel. Peel quince and insert cloves into flesh.
2. Place quince, cider, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg in large pot. Cover and heat very slowly until mixture simmers. Simmer at least 1 hour to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot in mugs.
1. Shrunken heads
For this craft, go to the expert: Martha Stewart. On a segment of her television show, Stewart offered an awesome method to create shrunken apple head decorations, including a lemon juice-salt soak that will let your apple dry without molding.
The apple above left is one carving attempt at the beginning of the project. The right-hand image is the finished, dried craft Stewart made.
Once you’ve prepared your apple heads, suspend them from the ceiling at eye level, impale them on sticks in your front yard, or arrange them on a window sill platter, and watch them shrivel.
Check out the segment for more details.