Thursday, October 20, 2011

Apples...Mountains of Apples...

We haven't had dinner at the dining room table (or school for that matter) since last Friday.  See, last Saturday I went to the orchard and picked up 125 pounds of apples...a little extreme you may say, but a $15/bushel for seconds, I couldn't pass it up (and 25 pounds or so are for a friend so really 100 pounds of apples for 4 people isn't really all that ridiculous is it?)  This year the going rate for apples is $35-$40 per bushel...the lower end is pick your own...yikes!  I was hoping to make apple products for a year out of this much and now it seems like it may not be enough.

So on Sunday I began canning applesauce much like I did last year.  This year I got 18 quarts/bushel.  I also decided to make apple pie filling since my husband enjoys a flat topped apple pie (when you cook with raw apples it mounds the top crust and then the apples cook down and you are left with a large air pocket...when the apples are pre-cooked, this doesn't happen and the husband is happier.)
So since I posted last year on apple sauce and how I do that, this year I will attempt to show apple pie filling in all it's glory.

I have been looking at several recipes on line as well as in various books and have kind of agglomerated these into my own version using spices we like (love cinnamon!) and leaving out/ reducing quantities of what we don't (we don't use much ginger or nutmeg as the smell of the spices give me a bit of a headache.) Spices don't effect the canning time, but everything else does so I went with the longest processing time.  Since apples are high acid and I'm also canning using sugar (organic raw evaporated cane juice to be more specific...not grocery store white sugar, which would work equally as well, but I like the slight molasses flavor that this gives...sucant works as well if you  have that.)  So here it goes.

Homemade Apple Pie Filling
Makes about 6 quarts 
12 pounds of  apples (1/4th of a bushel)
Peeled, cored, and then sliced
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp each ginger, nutmeg, allspice

Mix the water, sugar, lemon juice, and spices in a large pot.  Put the apples in and coat with the sugar mixture (if you want to be especially tricky, put the apples in the pot and then pour the mixture from another container.)  Heat over medium and carefully (as not to break up the apple slices) stir the mixture.  Once the mixture starts to get hot, cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are firm, but starting to cook.
In the meantime sterilize your quart jars and prepare the lids.  Ladle the apples into the quart jars, pour the syrup over the apples adjust the head space to 1/2 inch, adjust the lids and process in a water bath for 25 minutes.  

Now that you have the jars of apple filling what do you do with them?

  • Well first you can make pie...just like you would otherwise with raw apples, but the cooking time will be slightly reduced.
  • You can make apple crisp...just pour the contents of a jar into the baking dish, add your favorite topping and bake.
  • Warm up and enjoy over ice cream (or just eat as is warmed up...maybe sprinkled with a little granola for a quick pseudo crisp)
  • Make mini pies in muffin pans for those school lunch treats (or for breakfast...much healthier than poptarts.)
  • But first, before anything, admire them on your shelf and know how wonderful it is to have all your apples preserved in one way or another for the coming year.

And for cost analysis...much like the applesauce, it is much cheaper to make your own pie...
At the local grocery store a (conventional) pie goes for about $8.99.  
One quart of apples costs $0.62 ($15/bushel divided by .25 divided by 6)
Sugar 3/4 lb is approximately 1.5 cups at 1.25/lb it is $0.94/6 is $0.16
Lemon juice and spices call it $1.00 for the batch $0.17  
So in total it is less than a dollar per jar ($0.95)
To make a pie crust  it is about $0.50
So for about $1.50 I can make a pie.
That is if I want to...
I may just eat some of it straight up.

(Using "natural" apples, and all else organic.
Also, by buying from the farmer, I help keep the money local.)

I'll be submitting this to Punk Domestics...cause it's fun.


  1. I agree, there's nothing like homemade healthy food that's cost effective too. I turned about 20 apples into dried fruit, but they aren't being saved because they are being eaten hot. After 8 quarts of applesauce, I still have a bushel of apples left so I may use your pie filling recipe just for a little diversity. Thanks for posting it.

  2. I found your blog thru facebook via Punk Domestics! Just the recipe I've been looking for since I still have a huge bag of apples left! Great recipe! Stop by Comfy Cuisine if you get a chance! Your newest follower!

  3. Love the recipe -- and I love Maine! I'll have to try it with all my boxes of apples, after I finish the applesauce!

  4. Yummy yummy apples. I have never been apple picking and for now here in AK doesn't look like it will happen any time soon. I look forward to seeing some apple pie in your future.

  5. Kerry in ColoradoMonday, October 24, 2011

    I LOVE your cost analysis! We have always been able to find free apples from neighbors who are just letting the apples fall to the ground, so our cost is 0 there. But it would be interesting to calculate energy usage and include price of new lids/jars in there.

  6. All very good reasons to be eating a whole lot of delicious pie over the coming months. Not costly and tastes delicious!


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