23 Fantastic Uses for Apples

by Mikey Rox on 27 October 2011 3 comments
Photo: kumar303

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, think of what you can do with a bushel. From apple desserts and ciders to potpourri and candles, here are 23 things you can do and make with apples this fall. (See also: Curing Warts, Removing Splinters, and 19 Other Bizarre Uses for Banana Peels)

1. Carved Apple Candle Holders

What a festive way to add mood lighting to your home! This idea to make tealight candle holders with apples is nothing short of amazing. Just cut a hole in the top of the apple, scoop out the fruit to a little more than one-inch deep, and pop in the candle without the foil lining. Once the candle has burned for 10 minutes, the melted wax will fill the hole so nobody will ever know your short-cut secret.

2. Shrunken Apple Heads

This isn’t a particularly useful application for apples, but it’s quirky, crafty, and fun. To make shrunken apple heads, carve faces into the fruit and bake for three hours at your oven’s lowest temperature. When you pull them out, let them sit for a few days in a warm, dry area. Once the apples are all shriveled up like skeleton and witch faces, decorate them with black beans for the eyes and dry white-rice grains for creepy teeth.

3. Infused Vodka

Why pay premium prices for fruit-infused vodka when you can play mixologist at home? This recipe for apple-infused vodka is so simple it practically makes itself. Just core and cut your favorite kind of apple and place them in a jar. Fill with medium-grade vodka, seal the jar, and let the apples soak for a few days up to two weeks. Once you’re satisfied with the level of the vodka’s infused flavor, drain the vodka into a bottle and discard the fruit. Bottoms up!

4. Apple Cider

Been to a farm this fall? If so, you know just how expensive a gallon of apple cider is. Cut costs for the fabulous fall treat by making it from scratch. You’ll need about 36 apples, a food processor, and cheesecloth. Surprisingly, there’s not much else to it. For detailed steps, check out this TLC post on how to make apple cider.

5. Apple Butter

Another easy-to-make recipe for an otherwise expensive apple item. To make your own apple butter, you’ll need four pounds of Granny Smiths, fresh-pressed apple juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and assorted holiday spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Prep time is under 15 minutes with cooking time under 30 minutes.

6. Applesauce

This applesauce recipe doesn’t say how much it yields, so I don’t know if it’s cheaper to buy premade sauce or make your own, but it has to be much healthier than the former since you can control the types of apple you use (organic versus non-organic) and the amount of sugar. You probably have most of the ingredients on hand, which, in addition to three to four pounds of apples, include lemon peel, lemon juice, a cinnamon stick, dark brown sugar, white sugar, water, and salt. The final product will last up to one year in the freezer.

7. Apple Facial Mask

What can you do with that homemade applesauce recipe, besides eat it? You can turn it into a soothing facial mask when paired with cucumber, wheat germ, mint leaves, honey, oatmeal, and more.

8. Apple Cinnamon Potpourri

To make fresh apple-cinnamon potpourri, you may need to take a quick walk through a nearby wooded area. After you’ve dried your apple slices, you’ll add ground cinnamon, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, canella or nandina berries, 10 small pinecones, and cinnamon oil. Red sumac berries — plentiful in the wild — are a great stabilizer for potpourri. When presented in a nice jar with a festive ribbon, this would make a great gift for the host of a fall dinner party.

9. Caramel Apples

You can make your own homemade caramel with this recipe for caramel apples, but I find it easier to buy the caramel squares and melt them down. They’re less time-consuming and virtually foolproof. But if you want to go all out, definitely try this. The ooey-gooey beige caramel shines on the green Granny Smith apple. Before they set, add any number of toppings, from chopped nuts to crushed cookie and candy pieces.

10. German Apple Pancake

Frugally feed four with this recipe for a German apple pancake, which is basically an apple tart in a skillet. If you think you might be pressed for time in the morning, you can prepare it the night before and pop it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. Pair it with a side of bacon or sausage and spiked apple cider, and you’ve got one hearty, satisfying brunch on a crisp, cool day.

11. Apple-Cranberry-Sage Chicken

Just looking at the picture for this apple-cranberry-sage chicken recipe made my mouth water. It’s one of those semi-homemade recipes that calls for grape jelly, butter, a red cooking apple, celery, cranberries (fresh or thawed), Bisquick, ground sage, dried thyme, water and, of course, chicken. Less than 10 minutes in the skillet then about 45 minutes in the oven, and you’ll have yourself a delicious and juicy weeknight meal.

12. Ripen Green Tomatoes

Backyard tomato harvesting is over for the year, but even if you get a green tomato at the grocery store you can use this method of placing it in a paper bag with an already ripe apple. Over the course of a couple days, the apple will magically transfer its ripeness to the tomato.

13. The Ultimate Caramel Apple Pie

I’m not sure you can ever go wrong with one of Tyler Florence’s “ultimate” recipes. I haven’t found a bad one yet — and this recipe for the ultimate caramel apple pie is no exception. The thinly sliced apples are piled high inside a crisp crust along with fresh vanilla bean, red wine, cinnamon, heavy cream, and butter. As Ina Garten would say, “How bad can that be?” Although I guess it depends on your diet.

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14. Apple Juice

Kids and adults alike love apple juice, which is why this recipe for fresh apple juice is perfect for the whole family. It’s not exactly easy, but putting in the time will save you cash on pricey, sugary store-bought juice. You’ll need a juicer for this, so that might be prohibitive, but the end result will be worth it. Besides, Christmas is coming. Maybe the juicer is something to put on your list.

15. Apple Cider Vinegar

Just the thought of apple cider vinegar brings back memories from childhood of when my family would have a pig pickin’ (that is, roast a whole pig for everyone to share at a big barbecue — soooo good!) and putting apple cider vinegar on the pulled pork. This recipe for apple cider vinegar is moderately easy, but it’s not one you can enjoy right away. You have to let the vinegar ferment for at least a month. The upside is that there’s no apple peeling or coring involved. The apple flavor is derived from unpasteurized apple cider.

16. Soften Brown Sugar

Who doesn’t have a stiff brown sugar problem? I have a bag of brown sugar in my pantry that’s hard as a rock right now. Instead of tossing it, I plan to pop in an apple slice for a day or two until the brown sugar returns to its original soft state.

17. Creamy Apple-Cinnamon-Raisin Oatmeal

If you’re making oatmeal out of a package, you’re doing it all wrong. Homemade oatmeal is almost as easy to make — and it’s much better for you. This recipe for creamy apple cinnamon raisin oatmeal doesn’t leave much to the imagination — maple syrup and brown sugar are the two other ingredients — but it will pleasantly surprise your tastebuds.

18. Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Two fall faves in one recipe! These brown beauties, chock full of apple chunks, have all the seasonal flavor you crave. This recipe for pumpkin-apple muffins combines canned pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie mix), white and brown sugars, olive oil, and lots of fragrant spices — and they’re ready in about 30 minutes.

19. Green Apple Slaw

There’s another recipe down this list for apple barbecue sauce, so here’s what I want you to do. When you’re done fermenting your apple cider vinegar with the recipe above, prepare pork shoulder (easily done in a slow cooker), which will later become pulled pork. Combine the pulled pork with the apple barbecue sauce and pile it high on a toasted bun. Served that yummy sandwich with a side of this green apple slaw, which features Granny Smiths, raisins, and pecans. When you’re done, send me a message about how that meal sent you into a tailspin of foodphoria.

20. Keep Cakes Fresh

To keep cakes fresh, store them with half an apple. Like putting a slice of bread in a cookie tin, the apple will help keep the cake moister than storing it in the fridge.

21. Apple Barbecue Sauce

There’s too much goodness in this recipe for apple barbecue sauce to list, but you know when Worcestershire sauce is involved, it’s got to be good. If you want to know what to do with the finished product, see number 16 on this list.

22. Apple Black Bean Salsa

I never would have thought of using apples this way, but I’m always game for a little Mexican flair at dinnertime. This recipe for apple black-bean salsa calls for plum tomatoes, diced apples, lime juice, a jalapeno pepper, red onions, and black beans. So delicioso, right? Perhaps this is the perfect side for pulled-pork quesadillas?

23. Remove Excess Salt From Soups and Casseroles

Added too much salt to your soup? Don’t fret. Place a few apple slices in the mix a few minutes before it’s finished. They’ll suck up the extra salt, and no one will ever know your boo-boo.

Have even more ideas on how to cook and craft with apples? Let me know in the comments below.

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Meg Favreau's picture

This makes me miss apple picking in New England so much. One of my favorite fall activities is making a big ol' pot of applesauce. No sugar, lemon juice, or spices for me, though -- just apples and maybe a little bit of cider instead of water.

I also like making quesadillas with apple and sharp cheddar sometimes.

Mikey Rox's picture

I've heard about the apple-cheddar pairing. I'll have to try it.

Guest's picture
Tammy

There are some great ideas here. It is the time of the year for some apple cider.