Apple season is here, and you have probably noticed the variety of apples available in the stores and the trees laden with apples. Last year at this time anyone with apple trees was begging for people to help pick their apples because of the early snowfall our state experienced, so we are fortunate this year to have a beautiful fall that allows for ample time for picking the ripe apples. The saying “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” does have truth in it, since apples are a good source of fiber and contain vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium. Apples have so many uses, whether you choose to use them in a main dish, side dish, salad, bread, dessert, beverage or relish. American producers grow more than 100 varieties of apples annually, but about 2,500 varieties are actually grown in the U.S. Some of the newer varieties have been developed to provide more resistance to browning, bruising when shipped and to have a crisper texture. Because this is the season for apples, they are also the focus of this months’ Harvest of the Month, a program that focuses on Montana-grown foods in Montana schools and communities, and some of our local producers are providing apples to our schools throughout the month. It is important to note that the Bitterroot Valley and the south central part of Montana are the largest apple producing parts of the state.
What is more popular than a good apple pie, and this has been my top favorite recipe to use for several years. By cooking the apples first before filling the pie, you avoid the sinking of the pie that usually occurs when the apple pie is baked. Rather than putting on a top crust, I always top the filling with a streusel topping, but it can be topped with a crust if that is your choice. I recommend you try the pie and it may become your favorite as well.
(one 9-inch pie)
7 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (9-inch) pastry shell
Crumb topping (recipe follows) or pastry upper crust
In saucepan combine apples, brown sugar, water, and lemon juice. Cover; cook over medium heat 7 to 8 minutes or until apples are just tender. Stir together flour and granulated sugar; stir into apple mixture in saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and butter. Cool to room temperature. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Turn apple pie mixture into pastry-lined pan. Cover with crust, which has slits in it; seal and flute edges. Other option is to top apple filling with crumb topping. Bake 40 – 45 minutes.
Crumb Topping: Mix 3/4 cup flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup butter or margarine with fork or pastry blender until crumbly. If desired add 1/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts. Sprinkle over top of apple filling. Cover crumb topping with foil the last 10 minutes of baking if top browns too quickly. Source: “Betty Crocker’s Pie and Pastry Cookbook,” Golden Press New York.
The flavors of apples and pork go very well together and this recipe is a dinner dish that goes together quickly, so it can be an easy week-night dinner. Pork chops are also a good buy now so it is food budget friendly.
Apple Pork Chops
4 thick pork chops
2 tablespoons butter or oil
4 peeled and cored tart apples
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1½ cup warmed sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown pork chops in oil or butter in a frying pan large enough to hold all the chops. Season browned chops with salt and pepper. Cut apples in slices and toss with brown sugar. Place apples on top of each of the pork chops. Heat sour cream gently, do not overheat or boil. Pour over chops and apples. Cover and simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes. Source; “Start Composing,” Billings Symphony Associates.
You may not be able to attend a German Oktoberfest this year because of the Covid-19 virus, but you can enjoy a tasty German-themed dinner with this sausage, apple and sauerkraut casserole dish. Serve with mustard along as well.
Hearty Sauerkraut, Sausage and Apple Casserole
1 pound mild Italian sausage links or smoked Polish sausage cut into 1-inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
2 apples, peeled and quartered (If using small apples use more)
27 oz. can sauerkraut, undrained
1 cup water
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons caraway seed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook sausage and onions. Drain fat; stir in apples, sauerkraut, water, sugar, and caraway seeds. Transfer to a 2 ½ quart baking dish. Cover and bake 1 hour. Source: “Flavors of Harvey Cedars," Harvey Cedars Activity Committee.
Use the applesauce you have been making for this simple cake with a flavor of orange added. It is great for an after-school snack. The lady who contributed the recipe says it has been a family favorite of theirs for years.
After-school Applesauce Cake
½ cup butter or margarine
¾ cup brown sugar
1¾ cups flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 cup applesauce
½ teaspoon orange extract
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon aromatic bitters
1 cup raisins mixed with 1 tablespoon flour
Caramel Frosting Ingredients:
¼ cup butter or margarine
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1½ cups sifted powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8-inch square pan with baking spray. Cream butter and brown sugar; set aside. Sift together flour and baking powder. Mix applesauce with orange extract, cloves, cinnamon, and bitters. Gradually and alternately add flour and applesauce mixtures to creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix well after each addition. Fold in floured raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake about 45 minutes or until cake bounces back when touched lightly on top. Cool completely before frosting. Caramel Frosting: Melt butter, and brown sugar. Boil and stir for 1 minute or until slightly thickened. Cool briefly. Add milk; beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar. Beat until mixture has a spreadable consistency. Spread on cooled cake. Source: “Applehood and Mother Pie, Handpicked Recipes from Upstate New York,” The Junior League of Rochester New York.
Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.
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