How many apples fit in a 5 gallon (19L) bucket? About 20 pounds (9kg). What about my totes? About 45 pounds (20.5kg) if you don’t heap them too high. I’ve filled them so many times, I don’t even really need to weigh them anymore. I can just tell by looking at them. We picked two nicely heaped totes full, which was 90 pounds (41kg) of Earligold apples. I was spot on my estimate. So two totes meant I could get 5-6 gallons (19-22L) of juice. However, these are Earligold apples, the first apples from the orchard of the season and ideal for apple sauce. That meant I was going to kick off apple season with a trifecta of apple goodness: Sauce, Butter, and Hard Cider.
Earligold is a seedling originally discovered in Selah, Washington. It’s one of the earliest ripening apples that I have found. In Arizona it can be ripe at the end of July but I sometimes pick it a little unripe. However, that is because it’s an apple that goes to mush if it gets too ripe and it tends to hang well past ripeness. It has a sweet and tart flavor profile. I don’t perceive many tannins in either the flesh or the skin. It is a really good apple for sauce and butter. In fact it’s one of my favorites for sauce. It definitely gets me ready for picking apples and making hard cider. While not a traditional cider apple, if you live in the US, you will have trouble finding a traditional cider apple. If you are like me, you use what is around you and you adapt your hard cider by adding adjuncts from other fruits, vegetables, or spices that you can find in your area. For example, August is also prickly pear season here in Arizona and I have to make a Prickly Apple Cider.
The plan was to make several batches of apples sauces, a large batch of apple butter, and several gallons of juice for hard and sweet cider. I thought for this post, I’d share the recipes we use. They are straightforward and the sauce recipe is really great for showcasing the apple. I recommend trying it with numerous varieties to see which you like the best. Let’s explore these recipes.
4 Pounds (1.8 kg) – Earligold Apples
1/3 Cup (70 grams) – Brown Sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400F (205C)
- Core, peel, and slice the apples (Note: Place the peels in a container and freeze for later use in the hard cider).
- Place the apples in a 9×13 inch (23×33 cm) cake pan.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the apples.
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for one hour.
- Remove the foil and use a potato masher or even a spoon to mix the apples. The apples should breakdown easily. I like mine a little chunky so I don’t mix it heavily.
I peeled 12 pounds and we made three batches that we cooked simultaneously in the oven. This freezes really well and is great wholesome gift for isolated friends! We like to break ours into smaller containers that we can thaw and have it over the week. You can add cinnamon but I enjoy the natural flavor of the apples with a little caramel sweetness from the roasted brown sugar. It’s a winner. We reserve the cinnamon for the apple butter.
6 1/2 Pounds (3kg) – Earligold Apples
1/2 Cups (100 grams) – White Sugar
1/2 Cup (100 grams) – Brown Sugar, Packed
1 1/2 Tbsp (12 grams) – Cinnamon, Ground
1/4 Tsp (1 gram) – Salt
1 Tbsp (15 grams) – Vanilla Extract
- Peel, core, and slice the apples
- Place the apples in a slow cooker or crock pot
- Add all other ingredients and slowly stir all the ingredients together in the slow cooker until combined
- Cook on low stirring every few hours for 9-10 hours. This will depend on the apples you use. You want the apples to be soft and very dark in color. You can blend it with an immersion if you want it your butter to be very smooth.
We like to freeze our apple butter in small containers to make them easier to use. Besides being great on muffins and toast, this is also a great ingredient for pancakes, cakes, and even cookies. You can see the dark rich color and it has a great cinnamon and apple flavor profile. Those are sourdough biscuits that my wife made for a Saturday morning breakfast. It was scrumptious.
The last part of this trifecta of apple goodness was making juice. I have been eagerly awaiting the first apples to try some new yeasts. Earligold apples have decent sugar but would fall into the sharp category. They don’t have much in the way of tannins, but I want to see if I can pull some from the peels. This year, I have several fermentation ideas that I want to explore. One of those was to try torulaspora delbrueckii yeast. I went with White Labs WLP603 variety, which I thought appropriate since it was propagated from apples. Torulaspora delbrueckii was originally called saccharomyces delbrueckii but after sequencing, it was recognized to be of a different genus to saccharomyces yeasts. It’s supposed to produce high esters and at warm temperatures, some phenolic compounds. It’s summer in Arizona and the cooling monsoons are late this year so I will definitely be fermenting a little warm.
My plan is to juice the remaining Earligold apples, ~70 pounds (32kg), and get 4 gallons. I plan to ferment 3 gallons with torulaspora delbrueckii but with slightly different conditions. The fourth gallon, we will drink as fresh juice. It worked very well. I filtered the gallon I used for fresh juice and two gallons of the three gallons that I planned to ferment. The filtering was only intended to remove solids.
I used pectic enzyme first and the after letting it set for a few hours, I filtered it. You couldn’t see much difference as the following photo shows but I could definitely tell the difference in the juice we drank. We had very little sediment and basically no “furry” mass at the bottom when we drank the last bit. The reason I filtered it is because I’ve read that it helps the ester production. Since “toru del” (I can barely pronounce that let alone the Latin), is supposed to produce esters, I wanted to see if I could note the difference between filtered and unfiltered versions. I also want to see if I can notice a difference on phenolic compounds from the peels. More to come on this…
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