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Make the Most of Fall's Favorite Fruit: Apples

Andrea
Posted by Andrea on Oct 6, 2020

The sounds of pie making in our Lincoln Square kitchens last week brought back memories of Apple Fest in years past. In 2019, our culinary team made and sold 800 (!) of our famous Apple Pies, the most we've ever made. People stand in line for hours for a slice of that pie served with homemade whipped cream but once they taste it, they tell us that slice of heaven is well worth the wait. Apple Fest is our favorite event in Lincoln Square each year! 

apple pies-1

Fast forward one year and things look quite a bit different in 2020. The Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce made the necessary decision to switch the festival to a virtual event. We sold a lovely four-pack of discounted wine for that event, and we sold 95 pies for pre-order for curbside pickup from our store. From 800 to 95 pies! How's that for a staggering effect of COVID-19 on a small, local business? 95 pies was the max we could make with our current skeletal crew, and we thank each and every one of you who purchased a pie for Apple Fest this year. By doing so, you are helping The Chopping Block weather this pandemic storm. 

lisa apple pie

Did you know that Apple Pie was the very first dish ever taught at The Chopping Block? In honor of Apple Fest weekend, our Owner/Chef Shelley Young recreated that lesson in our new virtual format on Saturday. Students learned all of her tips and tricks for the pie that has become famous in the 23 years we've been in business.  

Shelley Virtual Apple Pie

Shelley followed that lesson up with another virtual Apple Desserts class on Sunday, where students learned how to make Apple Fritters with Cider Glaze and Individual Apple-Cranberry Crisp a la Mode. Cooking along with our chefs in our hands-on virtual Cook Along classes is the best way to ensure your success in the kitchen because we give you live, real-time feedback. 

apple desserts screenshot

Not wanting to be left out of the apple baking party this weekend, I also celebrated the fall fruit in a sweet way. I was also inspired by finding 3-pound bags of Gala apples on sale for less than $2.50 at my grocery store. I've been wanting to try making air-fried donuts with my CrispLid on my Instant Pot so why not choose an apple cider donut and make my own cider from scratch? It's ridiculously fast and simple with the Instant Pot.

 

Homemade Apple Cider

Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe

Makes 1 quart

7 medium apples cored and quartered (leave the skin on - I used my sale Galas, but any mix of Gala, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp apples would work)

1 orange (peeled and cut into segments)

1 lemon (peeled and cut into segments)

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole allspice

Enough water to cover fruit

1/4 cup sugar (you can use any sweetener of your choice: brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, Stevia, etc. - just adjust the amount to your taste)

cider mise

1. Place the quartered apples, orange and lemon into the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and whole allspice, and pour enough water to cover the fruit.

cider in pot

2. Place the lid on and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow to naturally release on its own or you can do a quick release after 10 minutes.

 
ip cider

3. Mash the fruit with a potato masher to release the juices.

 
mash cider

4. Strain the solids from the liquids using a colander or fine mesh sieve. Discard solids.

 
strain cider
 

5. Blend to combine.

 
cider blender
 

6. Store cider in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for later use. 

 
cider jar
cider cut
 

Once I enjoyed a cup of my hot homemade apple cider, I decided to use my second bag of sale apples for some quick applesauce, which is also easy peasy with the Instant Pot. It's the same process as cider, but you puree the apples rather than straining out the fruit. 

 

Homemade Applesauce

7 medium apples cored and quartered (leave the skin on - I used my sale Galas, but any mix of Gala, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp apples would work) 

1 cup water 

Juice of 2 lemons

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. Combine all ingredients in the inner pot of your Instant Pot. 

2. Secure lid and cook on manual (high pressure) for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.

3. Use an immersion blender to puree the applesauce. 

4. Transfer contents to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

5. Enjoy warm or cold. Store in the fridge for up to 7-10 days.

Note: I found that my apples were sweet enough once pureed that I didn't need to add sugar or another sweetener. But you do you, and add some if you like!

 
applesauce
 

I am not going to share the recipe for the air fryer cider doughnuts I tried, because I wasn't really happy with it. The doughnuts had the consistency of scones or biscuits, rather than light and fluffy fried dough. I used my CrispLid to air fry them, and I think that method would work well with a different batter. So, it's back to the drawing board on that for me! 

 
crisplid
 

However, what was a huge success is the apple cider reduction I made to put in the batter. Simply take 2 cups of your homemade apple cider and heat in a saucepan until boiling. Let boil for about 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.  

 
reducing cider 1
 
reducing cider 2 

What you are left with is the perfect consistency and sweetness of a dessert sauce. I used it to drizzle over my doughnuts and as a dipping sauce for the holes.

donuts with sauce

donut hole

The sauce was the best part of the doughnut experiment, and I plan to reduce whatever cider I have left to this consistency and find ways to use it. It would be amazing as a dip for those Apple Fritters Shelley made, drizzled over a piece of Apple Pie, this Baked Apple Pancake or even as a sweet component to a seasonal craft cocktail. If you want to learn fall recipes for vodka, don't miss our virtual Vodka 101: Fall Recipes coming up this Saturday, October 10 at 5pm CST. Our Spirits Expert Christophe Bakunas will lead you on a lesson about vodka as you learn how to make two cocktails called the Pear About and the Spotted Dalmatian. 

Pear Cocktail Home Box

If you want to take the reduction of the apple cider even further, you can make apple cider syrup and turn it into this pie. Shelley shows you how in her blog

appleciderpie

Whatever you end up doing with your cider, share it in our private Facebook group this week to meet our #tcbcookingchallenge. Each week, we pose a new challenge to members with a new ingredient or cooking technique, and they post their creations in the group to inspire others. What will you get inspired to make with apples this week?

Apple Challenge

Want more ideas for how to use apples this season? Join us for Fireside Feast on the Patio at Lincoln Square this Saturday, October 10 at 6pm, and you'll learn how to make a delicious savory application for apples: Smoked Pork Loin with Apple-Onion Chutney.

If you prefer your apples in sweets, you can't miss Pie and Tart Boot Camp coming up on Saturday, October 17 at Lincoln Square where you'll learn how to make Individual Dutch Apple Pies. This hands-on baking class is limited to just 8 people so we can properly social distance in our kitchen. 

And the grilling demonstration class Steakhouse on the Patio on Saturday, October 17 at 6pm features Wood-Fired Apple-Cranberry Crisp with Whipped Cream.

How about all of them apples to keep you busy this fall?  

See our class calendar 

 

Yield: 1 quart
Author: Andrea Miller
Print
Instant Pot Apple Cider

Instant Pot Apple Cider

Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 40 Min

Ingredients

  • 7 medium apples cored and quartered (leave the skin on - I used my sale Galas, but any mix of Gala, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp apples would work)
  • 1 orange (peeled and cut into segments)
  • 1 lemon (peeled and cut into segments)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • Enough water to cover fruit
  • 1/4 cup sugar (you can use any sweetener of your choice: brown sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, Stevia, etc. - just adjust the amount to your taste)

Instructions

  1. Place the quartered apples, orange and lemon into the inner pot of your Instant Pot. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and whole allspice, and pour enough water to cover the fruit.
  2. Place the lid on and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow to naturally release on its own or you can do a quick release after 10 minutes.
  3. Mash the fruit with a potato masher to release the juices.
  4. Strain the solids from the liquids using a colander or fine mesh sieve.
  5. Blend to combine.
  6. Discard solids and store cider in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for later use.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Topics: apple cider, apple, fall, Recipes, apple pie, applesauce

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