When our neighbors told us they were heading to Taos for the weekend to pick apples at a family orchard, they asked if we might want a few apples. After a bit of chatting, we came upon a plan: they’d bring home a lot of apples, and I’d turn them all into jelly, applesauce and apple pies. A side bonus? Our house smells divine.
One batch of apples – three delights.
What can you make with around 40 medium apples? Depending on size, you can end up with about 18 jars of jelly, three quarts of applesauce, and three apple pies. Here’s how:
Note: (If you use a gluten-free pie crust, all the recipes here are gluten-free.) Wash all apples, removing bad spots including severe bruises. For each apple, do the following in assembly-line fashion: over one large bowl, peel and core each apple, leaving a thick portion of apple attached to the peel. Over a second bowl, take the meat of each apple and slice into small slices. The peeling and core will be boiled for the jelly and applesauce; the slices will become pies.
In a very large stock pot, add peeling and cores and 10 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. (While it is boiling, you can begin work on pies.) Once the stock pot is at a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and slightly loosen lid. Continue to cook about 20 minutes until apples are soft. Once soft, turn off heat and let sit for five minutes.
Scoop cooked apples and peels into a colander balanced over a large bowl, letting the juice collect in the bowl. DO NOT press the peels; just let it drip. When most of the juice is gone, drop cooked apples into an empty bowl. Repeat until all cooked apples have been strained. Set aside cooked apples for applesauce.
Measure collected apple juice and pour 8 cups into an empty stock pot. (If you have enough, you can double this.) Add 6 cups sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil and add 1 package of Sure Jell. Stir until it is dissolved and then add to apple juice. Bring apple juice to a boil, stirring occasionally. (To test whether the jelly will thicken, remove a small amount on a spoon and slowly pour it back into the boiling juice. If it slightly holds to the spoon, it is ready.
Pour into clean glass jars, cover with new Kerr lids and rings, and invert for 5-10 minutes. Turn upright and let sit for 24 hours. Test lids to verify they have sealed. Jelly will store for several weeks in the fridge and for up to a year on a cool, dark shelf.
Depending on the quality and size of your apples, you should be able to make between one and three deep-dish pies. If you want to freeze the filling for a later date, here is a cool trick – line your pie pan with plastic wrap, pour in filling, fold in plastic wrap to completely cover apple filling. Freeze until shaped; remove pan and slide plastic covered apple filling into a freezer bag. When you are ready to bake, the apples will already perfectly fit your pan.
Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon to sliced apples; toss well. Pour into prepared pie crust; top with second layer of pie crust. Bake in 350F oven for 35-45 minutes, until crust is browned and apples are soft and bubbling. Remove and let sit for fifteen minutes before serving.
Since we boiled our apple cores with the peels, the applesauce will be a lovely red. Using colander balanced over a large bowl, scoop small amounts of cooked apple peeling and cores into the colander. Using a colander press, vigorously press peeling against the sides to squeeze all the cooked apple into the bowl below. Discard squeezed peels. Either serve immediate (adding sugar to taste) or cook until heated. Pour into clean jars, covering with new lids and rings. Can in a water bath according to directions or store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.