Every fall, it seems inevitable that you will end up in a friend’s car on the way to pick apples at a local orchard. Whether this is your bag or decidedly not, whether you find apple picking pleasantly whimsical or really weird, there comes a time in every fall aficionado’s life when you will amass 40 times as many apples as you can humanly eat. Not sure you can stomach another bowl of sliced apples with peanut butter as a little snack? Here, Eater editors share what they do when apples are in excess.
Andrew Zimmern via Miss Myra’s in Birmingham, Alabama
You know how people from Maryland talk about how good crabcakes have only the barest hint of breading or seasoning to hold them together? This cake is crabcake but for apples. You can fit so many apples in this bad boy, and unlike other cakes, which tend to specify you use tart, sturdy varieties, this one welcomes apples with a lot of sweetness and softness. The apple chunks are held together with a light, spiced cake that tastes like the best parts of coffee cake crumble. I promise it will inspire fervency. — Jaya Saxena, correspondent
Jamie Lothridge, My Baking Addiction
When faced with the problem of too many apples or a bunch that have gone neglected, apple butter is one of the easiest ways to transform an unwieldy, slightly bruised bulk into a spreadable treat that can liven up any pastry or biscuit, while also making your house smell better than a Yankee fall-themed candle in the process.
I experimented with the most-reviewed and highest-rated apple butter recipe I could find to replicate the feeling I had after visiting an orchard in Maryland. It worked. I gathered those poor, forsaken apples; peeled, cored, and cut them into even pieces (the smaller, the better); mixed them in a slow cooker with a blend of sugar and spices; and then set it and mostly forgot it. My house oozed of fall.
The best part — you can choose your apple butter adventure. Go low and slow with this super-easy slow cooker recipe — a 12-hour transformation that’s cool to witness, especially for first-timers — or knock it down to three hours with this Instant Pot version.
This recipe is pretty forgiving, so it’s easy to adjust it as you wish. Halve it for a smaller batch. Double it and share with loved ones. Cut back on clove or nutmeg if that isn’t your thing, though it’s truly delicious as-is. If you care about a smoother aesthetic, use an immersion blender, or, if you’re like me and don’t care, smush the chunky bits with a fork, spread it, and move on to the eating. Lastly, if chopping up pounds of apples by hand is not your idea of fun, this Vidalia Chop Wizard will have your apples in a uniform size within minutes (and I promise you’ll use it again for more than just apples). — Brittany Britto Garley, Eater Houston editor
Claire Saffitz, Dessert Person
It is a rare and exciting thing to bake or cook with Concord grapes, and nowhere are they more welcome and tasty than in this Claire Saffitz apple and Concord grape pie. If you’re tired of the same traditional apple pie recipe (it’s fine, it happens), the super-rich flavor of Concord grapes goes unbelievably well with sharp baking apples. Topped with a buckwheat crumble, the pie instantly delivers that homey fall feeling in barely one bite. It’s important to point out that there are quite a few steps, so if you’re feeling daunted, skip the pie crust bottom and just go full crumble. The most important flavors are the depth of the grapes and the sharpness of the apples, so you’ll be good without the crust. — Dayna Evans, staff writer and Eater Philly editor
Star Provisions, Atlanta’s cherished Westside sandwich shop, bakery, fishmonger, cheese counter, luxury table linen vendor, et al., has given me much food insight to smuggle back North. It was the first place I found Rancho Gordo beans and $12 cartons of Jeni’s salted caramel ice cream, where I bought my first parasol, and the site of my first encounters with Southern caramel cake and jamon beurre baguettes. Also, they make this amazing savory salad out of Ellijay apples, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, and mint. It so struck me as essential that I once asked for the recipe over the counter. The basic adaptation is: Slice or sliver the apples, squeeze with lemon, toss with the salt and pepper, coat in olive oil, and add chiffonade mint if you feel like it. All autumn, I use it to dress radicchio, serve it with latkes, and eat it on its own. Crispier apples are better, but this salad can also save mediocre ones. It’s one of those “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it” things I now can’t imagine living without. — Rachel P. Kreiter, senior copy editor
Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen
Like almost everyone else in the Northeast, I can’t resist the allure of a bushel of apples in the fall, whether I’m picking them myself or buying from the farmer’s market. And a week later, I’m inevitably Googling “recipes that use a lot of apples” to make sure I get through them all. Since I can only make so many crumbles and tarts, this savory-sweet scone has become one of my go-tos during apple season. These apple and cheddar scones from Smitten Kitchen are doable with ingredients that I almost always have on hand, and make a great breakfast. They also freeze well, on the off chance I’m not up for eating six scones in a weekend. I recommend the sharpest cheddar you can find — nothing says fall to me like combination of cheese and tart apples. — Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief