Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Family Date: Apple Picking

Apple picking at a local orchard is not only a wonderful way to support local farmers, and a great opportunity to get your hands on some fresh produce, but it really is family fun for all ages! In fact, it was one of our first big outings after Emma was born.

Last October, when Emma was about two months old, we took a family trip to Apple Holler, a sixty acre orchard in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. Emma enjoyed the sights and sounds, but wasn't able to take pleasure in any of the apples personally.

Due to some unusual weather patterns this year, the apple season is early, so we are heading out to our local orchard in September. This year, Emma was a lot more hands-on... from helping us pick the apples, to taking samples of the produce. We all appreciated the fresh, crisp air and exercise - which including carrying a few dozen apples back to the car. 

You may be thinking, "My family would never eat that many! What would I do with all those apples?" I'm so glad you asked! We split ours into three piles and made applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie! Now you may be thinking, "I have a family! When would I have time to make all that?" I'm so glad you asked! 

I'll let you in on my secret weapon: my crockpot! Without it, I would probably never make applesauce or apple butter, and would just have dozens of apples slowly rotting on my counter. Below is my applesauce and apple butter recipe. Don't let the laid-back nature of this recipe fool you - it's fantastic - it just also happens to be really, really easy.

Lazy Lady/Toddler Mom Applesauce & Apple Butter



12 medium apples (I always say about a dozen, but it's really however many it takes to fill your crockpot) 
1-2 cups granulated sugar (to taste)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
enough water to cover the bottom of your crockpot


  1. Turn your crockpot on high and add just enough water to completely cover the bottom.
  2. Chop and core your apples. I like big chunks. No need to peel them.
  3. Dump your apples in the crockpot and cover. Let them simmer for about 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. I've never had a problem with them burning, but the stirring helps to break up the apples more quickly. 
  4. When the apples reach a consistency that you're pleased with, (generally the mixture is thickened and light brown) add one cup of sugar and the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves to the crockpot and stir thoroughly. 
  5. Taste the applesauce. If you'd like it a little sweeter, add more sugar. Using a sweet variety of apple, such as Gala, results in a naturally sweet applesauce, so you'll probably add less sugar.
  6.'re done. I like slightly chunky applesauce, so I end right there. If you'd like it to be a smoother consistency, you can run the mixture through a food mill or blender.
  7.  Applesauce is great served warm! It can also be canned, or spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.

To make Lazy Lady/Toddler Mom Apple Butter I use the same method, but instead of being done at Step 6, I use an immersion blender (or pour into a regular blender) to puree the apple mixture until perfectly smooth. Apple butter can be served immediately on breads or muffins, and can also be canned, or spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze. 


I'm afraid I don't have a secret weapon for homemade apple pie. Although if I did, it would probably store bought refrigerated pie dough. (Who has to know?) Unfortunately that kind of deliciousness requires actual effort, albeit very little.  

For my homemade apple pie, I thinly slice 6 medium apples. In a large bowl, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Add your apple slices and mix gently. Pour your apples into a prepared (or store bought) pie crust and top with a second crust. Press your crust edges together to seal. You can do a pretty fluted pattern if you want to. Cut slits in several places in top crust to let steam escape. Bake the pie in a preheated 425°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes until apples are tender and crust is golden brown.

My 3 good things for today are:
  1. Applesauce!
  2. Apple butter!
  3. Apple pie!

What is your favorite apple recipe?

1 comment:

  1. I found a great baked apple chip recipe on Pinterest that I've been waiting to try.