Eat Well, Spend Less: 10 Things to do with Apples

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apple flax muffins (8) (500x375)

Most people would probably be rolling in the leaves this time of year.

Not our family.

We’re rolling in the apples.

Three weeks ago, we went to the apple orchard and picked 3 full bushels of apples (that’s 6 baskets). This weekend as we prepared to return for the later varieties, I figure we had already eaten more than half. I didn’t preserve a single one and only made one pot of applesauce.

We are a family of five.

The kids who have teeth are only 6 and 3 years old.

Methinks we eat a lot of apples!

This trip, we bought five bushels and really filled the garage…

Anybody want an apple?

10 Ways to Use Apples and Embrace Fall

mom and baby

Some of the best fall smells are associated with apples: the fresh apples filling the garage and Farmer’s Markets, the cinnamon-rich, homestyle smell of applesauce cooking on the stove, and of course the buttery-flaky baking smell of a from-scratch apple pie. A simple trip to the orchard is one of our family’s favorite autumn activities, hands down.

As I gaze proudly at the dozen or so assorted quarts and pints of canned applesauce on the counter and realize they cost less than $3 total, I pretty much think I’m rocking out the frugal food scene. (Even better yet are some readers who are foraging apples this fall – way to go, ladies!)

In-season apples feel like just about the most frugal snack, fruit, ingredient or food, period, that I can buy. While prices on everything we eat soar, I’m thrilled that I can still get a huge mess of apples for under $11/bushel. (Michigan’s a great place to live for real food…but we have snow to deal with half the year too, before you get super jealous.)

Apples are a great food to focus on for this Eat Well, Spend Less series, and if you don’t have inexpensive apples in your locale, try Stephanie Langford’s Real Food on a Real Budget for more comprehensive food purchasing strategies, on sale now for half off with the code MEALPLAN50.

Here are some of the ways we will deplete the boxes and bags of apples before they freeze:

1. Eat the apples

(in case you didn’t notice that one)


I think my husband would like me to try Kelly’s real food caramel apple topping this year, eh?

2. Share the apples

apples 2 I took 25 washed apples to my son’s first grade class this morning for their community snack. One little boy in line when I delivered them said enthusiastically, “Yeah, apples!”

Ah, the power of real food.

3.Bake with the apples

apple squares (2)

4. Sauce the apples

canned applesauce

Whether you own a canner or not, making applesauce is mandatory if you have more than a dozen apples in the house. It takes no fancy equipment.

You can do it with skins or without, using perfect apples or mushy, iffy-looking ones, and preserve it in the freezer or canned. Or just eat it, of course. Applesauce will stay good in the fridge for weeks.

I made quite a bit this weekend, and my mother-in-law was surprised when I said, “Just apples and cinnamon,” after she complemented it. Her eyebrows raised into the “Wow there’s no sweetener in these?” position.

Just apples and cinnamon. (Lots of cinnamon.) Add a little water. Cook until mushy. If you leave the skins on, whiz it thoroughly with a stick blender.

Visit Amy for 6 ways to sauce them plus a gazillion other apple recipes.

5. Dry the apples

apple slices

  • Applesauce Fruit Rolls are explained both in Healthy Snacks to Go and how to preserve apples. You can make “fruit roll-up” substitutes even if you don’t have a dehydrator!
  • Dried Apples (above) are quick and easy and last a really long time. I still have some in my vehicle as “emergency car snacks” from last year’s bounty. Here’s how to dehydrate apples. Check out this cool grain-free dried apple pie from Stephanie – on the someday list!
  • Maple Apple Chips are on the “must try” list for me. My friend who is babysitting my dehydrator while I’m between houses tells me that very thinly sliced apples become chips after about 30 hours on 135F.

6. Freeze the apples

I don’t think I have room in the freezer this year, but I usually freeze at least one bag for later. Peel, slice and freeze in quart-sized bags to use in baked recipes like apple crisp or maybe this Apple Pie from Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

7. Breakfast with the apples

Almond Apple grain free pancakes

Do you plan your breakfasts? With recipes like these, you might have to start. If you input online recipes into meal planning software like Plan to Eat, do make sure you attribute them. Thanks!

8. Throw the apples

Only the fallen apples when you’re waiting for the tractor to come pick you up, of course:

boy throw

men throw apples

9. Mix the apples

…with yogurt, that is.

yogurt with applesauce

As I mentioned when I talked about eating plain yogurt with less sweetener, heavily cinnamoned applesauce is a great mix-in with your homemade yogurt, and you can even get away with zero sweeteners.

10. Ferment the apples

fermenting apple-chutney

I’m not a very experienced fermenter, but it’s coming up on my “time to do it” list once we’re settled in our new house. Luckily, I’ll have all the wisdom of the GNOWFGLINS eCourse on fermented foods from which to draw: doesn’t this fermented apple chutney (pictured above) look amazing?

If I get my hands on my dehydrator while we still have apples waiting to be preserved, I might actually try the fermented fruit leather demonstrated in this month’s eCourse thank you video. Be brave, Katie! Winking smile

Bonus: How do you Wash an Apple?

I tested 8 different kinds of produce wash on apples, including homemade, commercial and rubbing on the jeans. You’ll never guess what was the second most effective!


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I’m happy to link into Top Ten Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday and Pennywise Platter Thursday.

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25 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    Fermented apples sounds really interesting! I just started trying to ferment foods recently. So far I have made kimchi and I’m in the process of making fruit scrap vinegar from Wild Fermentation. I’m happy with the results so far!

  2. says

    Apples here run $2 – $6. Per pound. And those are the cheap options. If we buy on the economy (we live in Japan) apples are often individually packed in foam and run $5-$6 EACH. You have to reaaaaally want an apple pie to make one here!

  3. says

    I entered an apple pie contest just to get the 10% discount on the apples at the farmstand. They are $2.50/lb for u-pick and Macs are $1.79/lb at our local farm. I have to drive a half hour away to find $.79/lb apples. Can’t wait to stock up there next weekend since we are going through applesauce like crazy. We make it with the skins on and run it through the food mill since our 8 mo old loves it. You just can’t get pink applesauce in a store that looks like my Nana’s.

  4. Janette says

    Just curious if the apples you get are organic. I want to do all these things with apples but they are #1 on the pesticide list. We have an orchard down the road that says they do spray so I’m a little reluctant to use the apples but don’t have access to many organic apples or they’re too expensive. Just wondering if this is something you worry about or have to deal with. :)

    • Katie says

      Sadly, it’s something I try not to think about. Big sigh. I know the farm we go to uses pesticides, probably tons, but I’m hopeful that at least local apples have fewer chemicals than others since they don’t have to stay “nice” for travel. ???

      I might try to get a bead on organic next year, but I know it will be at least double if not more…

      That’s a tough one…Katie

  5. says

    I didn’t realize making applesauce was so simple. We have a ton of apples, so I will be trying that out. We don’t have a dehydrator, but we are also going to try making apple chips in the oven.

  6. Elizabeth says

    We are in the GR area. Where do you pick? I paid $6 for 1/2 bushel of good quality seconds and thought I was doing well! Your price has mine beat though!

  7. Beth says

    Wow! I can’t believe your apple prices! We live in OH and just down the road from two small orchards. I bought a bushel of seconds from one orchard for $26. And when the first orchard ran out of prepicked apples, we went to the other, which didn’t have seconds, so I had to pay $37 for another bushel. The past couple of years we’ve picked and then it is considerably cheaper ($18 a bushel maybe), but it didn’t work out this year.

  8. says

    You must be able to read my mind. Tonight I was thinking–I don’t know of a real food recipe for a caramel apple dip–then you link to Kelly’s! Thanks–b/c my hubby loves anything caramel!

    We are really blessed in that our local healthfood store frequently marks organic apples down to $49/lb in the in season! I usually buy as many as I can when they mark them down. (They might have a little bruise or mark–but are fine in my book!)

    So many great recipes to try–thanks for sharing!

    And I can’t believe Stephanie’s book is the only ebook you’ve purchased!! I’m an ebook addict! haha :)

  9. Sarah W. says

    Regarding frozen apples… I did this last year, and when I thawed the apples, there was so much liquid that came out of them! What do you do with that when you want to bake with them? discard the liquid or throw it in? I wanted to make apple pie, but they lost a lot of their bulk that way, and didn’t fill up my pie as much as i would have liked. haven’t tried frozen apples in other baked goods yet. TIA!

    • Katie says

      It’s been a while since I froze and used apples in a pie, but I feel like I just up and used them (maybe even frozen). My fav is to just to simple baked apples/apple crisp, then the water just makes yummy cinnamon sugar juice! :) Katie

  10. Cat says

    Just a quick note about apples. I am a health consultant and I want to caution you about the spray used on apples. Try to eat organic apples as apples are one of the top fruits to absorb the chemicals that are sprayed on them. Check around and I am sure that some neighbor would love to share their organic apples. We found a kind lady this year and she shared so many apples with us, non-sprayed variety.

  11. Gail says

    I very gratefully received 2 bushels of FREE honeycrisp apples from a wonderful tree farmer friend from my parish- We send teens to help him trim trees and clear brush and he gives me whatever I want in apples! A friend and I had a pie making day and assembled many, many pies-She made the crusts, I did the filling- to use for a parish dinner event, give away to others, and put in our freezers for Thanksgiving. Also put up lots of apple sauce.

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