My favorite time of year is here! And I usually wait for that perfect day. You know the one. There's that crisp air with a slightly maple smell from all the falling leaves. The sun is warm and bright. When that day arrives, I have to grab my fall jacket and head out to a farm market.
I go to a local farm market once a week all summer long to get my fruits and veggies, since I'm unable to do big gardening anymore. I grab things like musk melon, potatoes, cucumbers, corn and tomatoes. But in the fall, it is pumpkin and apple time!
On this brisk warm day, I chose to visit a farm market in Oxford Ohio, Butterfield's Barn. Today I am in search of the perfect apple for making pies. I am going to make apple pie filling in bulk and freeze it for the winter. With all the other fruit I've frozen or canned, I figure I will only need six quarts. I found the perfect recipe. It is posted from allourway.com on facebook:
Apple season is here!
Freezer Apple Pie Filling
24 cups sliced peeled baking apples (6-7 lbs)
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
10 cups water
In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; set aside. In a Dutch oven (large kettle works) over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add water; bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples; return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes. Ladle into freezer containers, leaving ½ inch headspace. Cool at room temperature no longer than 1 ½ hours. Seal and freeze; store for up to 12 months. Yield: 5 ½ quarts (enough for about five 9-inch pies). *I added 3 teaspoons of cinnamon, got 6 quarts and enough extra for a small apple crisp and boy was it good!*
Okay, here are my tips. Instead of quart jars, I use gallon-sized freezer bags. Let the filling cool a bit before filling the bags (one quart per bag) and then flatten the bag to freeze it. This way, you can stack the “boards” of filling in your freezer and slide one out when needed. Less space needed, and the thawing time is shorter. After thawing, I heat mine up on the stove or in the microwave before putting it in my pie crust, and dot it with butter before sealing the top crust.
Along the same lines, you can stack and freeze your pie crusts. Roll them in your 8 or 9″ circles between wax paper, and stack them together in one of those two-gallon freezer bags. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using!
So I looked over all the apples and chose Cortland. Cortlands are great for cooking. They have a sweet, slightly tangy taste, and are slow to oxidize. But they are softer than the more modern apples and create a soft apple pie that my hubby and I love. It also makes a great applesauce. I got 12 pounds.
Next on the list was grabbing a half-gallon of apple cider. I was thinking that some of those apples I was buying would also make great apple fritters. A glass of apple cider goes good with that. Then I came across the pumpkins. It was a very hard decision, but after looking at about 10 of them, I chose two nicely formed large orange pumpkins. Ah fall. How I love you. But it is bittersweet. The shop was crowded with shoppers having the same idea as mine. Pretty soon, the farm markets would be closed for the season. The cold winds will begin to blow. But I will have this perfect fall day to sustain me, along with a hot apple pie right out of the oven to remind me.