Apple orchards all over the are opening up for the season and nothing says fall quite like a trip to the local orchard for apple picking and cider doughnuts. The apple crop is the quintessential New England harvest and we love to take advantage of the peak season. But are all apples the same? Can they all be used to make an apple pie?
Different varieties of apples are better used for certain recipes. Some are destined to make for a show-stopping pie or galette, while others are better used in applesauce or compote or just eaten fresh. Additionally, every apple has a different amount of sweetness and natural pectin. Pectin releases as apples cook, letting them bind slightly together and making for a beautifully thick pie filling. Generally, the riper the apple, the more pectin it contains and the less thickening agent you will need.
So how do you know where to start when you select your apples this fall? Here are our recommendations.
Granny Smith – Tart with crisp flesh and green skin. These versatile apples hold their shape well even when cooked and can be used for baking, eating fresh or in salads, in pies and in sauces. We love them for their crunch and the tartness they can add to a pie when mixed with a sweeter apple.
Fuji – Sweet and juicy with firm, red skin, we prefer this variety of apple for eating fresh. Fuji apples are generally too juicy for baking, but we love the sweetness (one of the sweetest apples around!) they lend to salads or julienned in a slaw. Try adding them to your fall inspired cheese board, too!
Golden Delicious – Sweet with a crisp texture and great for all apple recipes. Golden Delicious apples get a bad rep for being dull in taste or grainy in texture. We’ve found that this is usually a sign that the apple has been stored for too long and is past it’s prime, especially given it’s thin skin which isn’t ideal for storing. A ripe, freshly picked Golden Delicious apple is rich and buttery and can be used for fresh eating, desserts or processing into applesauce or in a pie.
Cortland – Slightly tart and slightly crisp, this New England favorite can be used for baking, eating fresh, making pies and making applesauce. It’s one of our favorites for making pies! They also brown at a slower rate if used fresh and sliced in salad.
Pink Lady – Also known as Cripps Pink, this apple is known for it’s pink hued skin. Tart flavor with plenty of crunch, this apple is delicious eaten fresh or used for baking.
McIntosh – juicy and sweet with a pinkish-white flesh and red skin, a Mac is known for it’s classic apple flavor. Best used for sauces or eating fresh. McIntosh apples don’t hold their shape well when cooked and tend to break down in baked goods, which makes them an exceptional apple for applesauce or sweet and savory compotes. If used for baking, use a thickener to keep apples from becoming too mushy.
Once you’ve determined the best variety for your apple needs, select the best apples by looking at their size, skin and color. If you’re picking your own at the orchard, be sure to remove your apples properly, especially if storing them for any given time.
- Size: While counterintuitive, smaller is usually better when choosing an apple. Larger apples have ripened quicker and may be past their peak.
- Skin: Look for smooth skin without any cuts or bruises. Bruised skin will ripen more quickly.
- Color: The brighter the better!
- Removal: Lift the apple and give it a twist; never pull the apple downward from the branch. If possible, try to keep the stem on the apple. It’s believe that the stem will help the apple store better if you do not plan to eat it right away.
- Taste: Give it a bite! A ripe apple should be crisp, juice and sweet. If the apple is hard, difficult to bite or bitter, it isn’t quite ready.
Did you know?
- It takes roughly 36 apples to make one gallon of apple cider.
- There are nearly two pounds of apples in one, 9-inch apple pie.
- There are roughly 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States.
- The McIntosh apple is the most popular variety in New England.
Time to bake! While we love a good, old-fashioned apple pie, there’s something about the rustic elegance of a free form galette that we also love. We tossed our apple mixture with our new Holiday Chutney for a new twist. Loaded with ripe, tantalizing chunks of sweet fruit, tart rhubarb and spices, our Holiday Chutney reminds us of everything we love about the holidays. Stay tuned for more delicious ways to use this sweet and savory condiment!
For the pastry –
- 1 cup flour
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 2 Tablespoons cold water
For the filling –
- 3 apples (such as Granny Smith, Cortland or McIntosh), peeled, cored and sliced into eighths
- ¼ cup flour
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided
- ½ cup Stonewall Kitchen Holiday Chutney
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for topping
- For the pastry, place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment. Pulse several times. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. With the food processor running, slowly add the water until the dough comes together into a ball. Try not to overwork. Gather dough and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Roll the dough into a 10-inch round between two pieces of parchment paper using as little flour as possible to dust the surface to prevent sticking. Remove and discard the top piece of parchment paper and transfer remaining parchment and rolled out dough onto a baking sheet.
- Combine the apples, flour, ¼ cup sugar and Holiday Chutney in a bowl. Mix until apples are evenly coated. Spread apple mixture out in the center of the pastry dough, leaving a 1½-inch border around the edges. Pat the apples so they are snug and packed together. Fold the 1½-inch edge of the pastry up over the apples and crimp pastry if necessary.
- Combine 1 Tablespoon of sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the galette.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Making this recipe? Tag us on Instagram and share your creation with us! @stonewallkitchen