Now that it’s fall, we know you’ve got your outdoor weekends and chilly evening activities plotted out in iCal, all the way through Thanksgiving—including at least one apple-picking adventure with your fellow fall-loving friends. If you’re like us and a little… over-enthusiastic at the orchard, you probably lug home a mixture of apples and wonder what kind of kitchen disaster you’ve gotten yourself into.
Aside from being very obviously different in color, shape, and flavor, the 2,500 different apple varieties that are grown here in the United States also vary widely in texture, with no one-recipe-fits-all treatment. It can be hard to figure out what to do with them if you don’t plan on eating the whole bushel raw. So we’re here to help, with test kitchen-approved recipes for five common varieties.
Gala apples are mild and sweet with a fine texture, so they’re great when cooked down and to saucy spreadability. Try this warmly spiced apple compote on your next grilled cheese (even better with Cheddar).
1 gala apple
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1) Prepare Ingredients: Halve lemon. Peel apple, halve, and remove and discard core. Cut into .5-inch cubes.
2) Make Compote: In a small pot over medium-high heat, bring spices, juice of 1 lemon, apple, 1/3 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Once boiling, cook until liquid is reduced by about half, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, breaking up apple with a spoon, until compote is smooth, about 2 minutes more. Remove pot from heat and set aside to cool slightly before using.
These green, mouth-puckeringly tart fruits provide awesome balance to sweet dishes, which is why they’re so often sliced thin and baked into pies. We like to cut them in half and bake until tender and mellowed, with a light and buttery oat crumble on top.
4 tbsp butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
.5 cup oats
2 1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 granny smith apples
1 aluminum tin
1. Prepare Ingredients: Preheat oven to 425ºF. Halve apples, discarding cores.
2. Prepare Apples: Place 1/4 of butter in a large bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, until melted. Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar, half of cinnamon, and ⅛ teaspoon salt to bowl with butter. Stir to dissolve. Coat apples in butter-sugar mixture.
3. Bake Apples: Place aluminum tin on a baking sheet. Pour 1/2 cup water into tin, then place apples into tin, cut-side up. Spoon any remaining mixture over top. Cover with foil, transfer to oven, and bake until apples have softened, about 20 minutes.
4. Make Crumble: While apples bake, in a medium bowl, stir together vanilla, whole-wheat flour, oats, 1/4 teaspoon salt, honey, remaining butter, remaining cinnamon, and remaining brown sugar until fully combined. Refrigerate until needed.
5. Finish Apples: Remove apples from oven and remove and discard foil. Top apples with crumble. Return to oven and bake until crumble has browned, about 15 minutes more.
6. Plate Apples: Allow apples to cool before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Aside from being golden and delicious (we had to!), this variety is naturally super-sweet, so it’s best in recipes that don’t call for added sugar. It’s also one of the most popular apples in the country, so you can probably get your hands on enough to make a big batch of apple sauce:
3 pounds apples
1/4 cup light brown sugar
.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Prepare Ingredients: Peel apples, halve, and discard cores. Cut into .5-inch chunks. Halve lemon.
2. Make Apple Sauce: In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine apples, 1 cup water, sugar, and .25 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until apples are very tender, 20-25 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until liquid has almost completely evaporated, 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in juice of 1 lemon and cinnamon. Set aside to cool.
Another naturally sweet apple, the Fuji boasts dense, crisp, crunchy flesh. If you can resist eating them straight out of the basket, show off your Fujis in homemade apple juice (which can also be used as the base for mulled apple cider, or apple-y cocktails).
3 pounds fuji apples
cinnamon – optional
superfine sugar – optional
ginger – optional
1. Prepare Ingredients: Peel apples, halve, and discard cores. Thinly slice. [If using ginger, peel and discard skin of ginger].
2. Cook Apples: Place apples in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Place pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil apples until very soft, 20–25 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside to cool. [If using ginger, place ginger in pot with apples as soon as the pot is removed from heat].
3. Strain Apples: Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl. Pour apple mixture into the sieve, and allow all liquid to strain into the bowl. [If using ginger, discard]. Gently mash any apples in the sieve, extracting as much juice as possible. Discard remaining apples. Place bowl of juice in refrigerator to cool.
4. Finish Apple Juice: Once juice is cool, taste and add cinnamon, sugar, or any other flavorings as desired. Store in refrigerator and enjoy within 1 week.
The slightly tart flavor of the Macintosh makes it another great option for pastries on the sweeter side. So, alright, we’ll give it to ya: a classic apple pie recipe, with a crispy walnut topping!
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup + 3 tablespoons flour
6 macintosh apples
¼ cup tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons butter
1 9-inch pie crust
1) Prepare Ingredients: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Allow butter to soften at room temperature.
Peel apples, halve, and discard cores, then thinly slice. Roughly chop walnuts. Beat 1 egg in a small bowl.
2) Prepare Filling: In a large bowl, whisk together sour cream, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, beaten egg, .25 teaspoon salt, and 3 tablespoons flour until fully combined. Stir apples into mixture. Pour into pie crust, and place filled crust on a foil-lined baking sheet.
3) Prepare Topping: In a separate large bowl, stir together walnuts, dark brown sugar, remaining flour, and .25 teaspoon salt. Using your fingertips, mix softened butter into walnut mixture until no larger than the size of a pea. Sprinkle topping over pie.
4) Bake Pie: Transfer baking sheet with pie to oven and bake until fully cooked and browned on top, 55–75 minutes.