There’s no doubt that you’ve got a bounty of fresh apples after your visit to a local apple orchard, and nothing says fall like baking up a delicious apple dessert or making a fresh apple and kale salad. Here, several local makers and pastry chefs share their tips on how to cook with this autumnal gem.
Know which apples to use
Different varietals of apples offer different textures and flavors, and react differently to being cooked. Amanda Leone, pastry chef at Pieces and Protagonist Cafe, uses Granny Smiths or Pink Ladies for baking. “They’ll both stand up to the brown sugar and warming spices we crave this time of year,” Leone says. Cindy Higgerson, owner of Larder & Cupboard, echoes Leone’s call to use Granny Smiths. “For pies, cobblers, desserts and even poultry and pork dishes, I tend to use Granny Smith because they hold their shape and the flavor won’t get lost,” she says. Higgerson likes using Fuji and Jonathan apples in seasonal salads.
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Don’t limit apples to sweet applications. Apples make a terrific addition to a variety of savory dishes as well. “Apples are also great sliced up very thinly in salads with robust greens like kale,” Leone says. Higgerson loves the age-old pairing of apples and pork. “One of my favorite things to make in the fall and winter is roasted pork tenderloin with caramelized onions, apples and white wine. I’ve even deglazed the pan with Grafton Winery’s apple wine for a little extra apple flavor,” she says. She also likes incorporating apples into classic sausage stuffing around Thanksgiving. Madeline Hissong of Damn Fine Hand Pies frequently makes a dish based off another essential pairing: apples and cheddar. She bakes a sharp white cheddar focaccia and tops it with homemade apple butter for a creative take on a classic.
Cook them down
If there is one type of can’t-miss fall product, it’s apple butter and sauce. Leone loves making applesauce at home. “It’s easy and delicious and so much better than store-bought,” they say. Higgerson likes Jonathan apples for apple butter, jams and preserves because they’re just the right balance of sweet and tart. For Hissong, making good apple butter is about keeping it simple. “I don’t use any extra spices, just a mix of sweet and sour apples,” she says.