A Box of Apples


Oh, the things you can make from a box of apples! (If they are free, it’s even more exciting.)

I got this box of apples from the farmers market. They are a crazy mix of apples and I don’t care. I like my apples mixed up. I rarely cook with one and only one specific type of apple. For one thing, I rarely cook with apples that aren’t free. For another, I think mixing it up adds flavor, texture, and color to a recipe.

It makes life easy–and interesting. One of my mottos in cooking is not to be too hung up on rules. (How much fun is that?)

I hope this is only the first of several boxes of apples I’ll have at my disposal this year, but you never know. I made the most of this one.

Several people have asked about my pantry. I heard a huge ruckus yesterday morning and popped out of bed, envisioning cats knocking all my pretty jars off the dining room table where they’ve been sitting due to lack of organization and space in my pantry. Luckily, that wasn’t what happened. (Spice, the Door-Opening-Cat, had opened the door in the middle of the night, letting all three dogs in, including THE GIANT PUPPY. They were doing laps with the cats around my kitchen, but they didn’t break anything. Whew.) However, after that scare, I decided it was time to get the pantry under control.
There’s more, this is just one wall. It’s nice to gaze upon it and know I did that.

Morgan came in and found me standing there. She said, “You like to look at that, don’t you?” I said, “Yes, it gives me a sense of satisfaction for all the work I’ve done. Like I enjoy looking at you. It gives me a sense of satisfaction for all the work I’ve put into you.” She said, “What work?”
And then I beat her to death.


I store rings the way Georgia does. Make a loop on one end of a piece of thin rope (I’m using clothesline here) and hang it on a nail. Tie one canning ring onto the other end. Then drop all your rings down the line and hang.
It’s an easy, space-saving way to keep canning rings. I have one line for wide-mouth rings and another for regular.

Most of the apples I’ve preserved from this box aren’t in jars yet. It was too much to get into jars right away. I prepared the apples for freezing, measured in the specific quantities for recipes I intend to can later, and labelled accordingly.

When cutting up a large quantity of apples at once, fill a pot with cold water and throw in several teaspoons (or tablespoons, depending on quantity) of produce protector. (I use Fruit Fresh, which is a Ball product found in the canning aisle of most large grocers.) As you cut up the apples, toss the pieces in the pot to prevent darkening while you continue to work.

To freeze apples, place slices in boiling water for 2 minutes.
Cool in ice.
Drain and pack in freezer baggies or containers.

I have a number of recipes planned for the apples from this box. So far, I’ve canned one round of apples with dried cherries and raisins. The recipe I used is based on one from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, though I modified it a bit. Here’s how I made mine. I used more cherries and raisins. Also, the Ball recipe called for 8-10 pounds of Granny Smith apples and I used about 12 pounds of mixed apples. For me, this made a total of 10 pints, which I made in two batches because it was too much for one pot, so this is per 6 pound batch.

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How to make Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisins:

6 pounds mixed apples
2 cups sugar
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wash and core apples; do not peel. (LOVE THAT IN A RECIPE.) Cut apples in thick slices. Combine apple slices with sugar in a large saucepot, stirring gently to coat apples. Let sit 20 minutes. Stir in dried cherries, raisins, lemon peel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Pack hot fruit in jars. Ladle hot syrup over fruit, leaving a full inch headspace. (Be SURE to leave good headspace on this recipe–the dried fruit will swell during processing.) Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece lids. Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a hot water bath.

See: How to Can: Hot Water Bath Method.

Will that not make wonderful Christmas gifts? What a lovely treat to spoon over slices of homemade pound cake or ice cream, or as part of other recipes. (Canned in quarts, it would make the fruit base for a delicious pie!) I have apples measured out and frozen so I can make this again. I also have the apples prepared and frozen for apple chutney and apple-maple jam. I made gallon baggies of potpourri–do not throw your cores and peels away!
Put them in the dehydrator!
I’ll use them for dry potpourri mixes, simmering potpourri mixes, and just to sprinkle in gift baskets for decoration. Dried apple peels, slices, and cores are gorgeous! I love them.

Work, pleasure, the satisfaction of food stored for winter, and even free gifts for another homemade Christmas–all from a box of apples.

Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisin, with dried apple peels and cores.
(Of course I saved a few apples for Pocahontas.)
(And the chickens.)

Last night, after a week of intense but rewarding labor in the kitchen, I picked a handful of flowers from my garden and lit a homemade candle while Grandmother Bread was rising for our dinner.
And rested my feet.

Today, I’m on my way to pick up somebody special (or two). GUESS WHO!

Find the Rustic Apples with Dried Cherries and Raisins at Farm Bell Recipes here.

See All My Recipes
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  1. Sheila Z says:

    Pantry is looking good. Time to stock up for when you get snowed/iced/flooded in during winter ’09/10. I still remember last winter when you ran out of aluminum foil. Don’t forget to buy two or three of everything between now and when the snow flies. I love where you live, but would be driving myself nuts squirreling away enough to never run out of anything.

    I just canned 21 quarts of peaches and still have a bushel to go. Peach Chutney is next and I think I’ll freeze a few peaches too. Boy my feet and back are tired and sore. I sure do understand all the work you are doing even if Morgan doesn’t.

  2. Judy says:

    That is a neat idea for the rings…I have mine sitting in a bowl right now because I had no idea where to put them.

  3. Carmen Smith says:

    Hi there! I just had to comment on your staring into the pantry, LOL…I do it too! I LOVE the idea on storing the canning rings, they look so quaint and old timey hanging like that:)I also love how much you love your furbabies, I’m the same way!

  4. Phyllis Ryan says:

    Since there are just two of us my canning days are over, but when I look at your pictures I can still smell the apples, and tomatoes and remember……….. Thanks for the memories.

  5. Mama Pea says:

    What can be better (and more soul-satisfying!) than a well-stocked pantry made possible by your own labor? I don’t have a pantry right now but one is in the works for the remodeling we’re going to do in the coming year. I can hardly wait. In the meantime, thanks for letting me stand in yours for a few minutes!

  6. Val Iskierka says:

    I love your columns on canning and preserving. I have never done it, and my kitchen is being remodeled right now, so this isn’t the year, but I plan to do so next year. You are truly my inspiration.
    I also use more than one variety of apples when making pies or crisps, etc. It just makes the food item taste better!

  7. Suzette says:

    Apple butter? Apple butter?

    Everyone who wants Suzanne to make apple butter, raise their hand! Of course, then you are required to send each of us a jar!

    As for rings… I just screw ’em back on the jars. The jars gotta be somewhere. They might as well be there with a ring on ’em. Of course, I throw away the liner part as soon as the contents are gone. I hope everyone does that! Yes?

    • Suzanne says:

      Suzette, it’s actually not good to leave the rings on the jars. For one thing, sometimes they can rust on there and be difficult to get off, and for another thing, a ring left on the jar during storage can mask a bad seal. If it so happens that the seal IS bad and you were unaware of it, the jar would explode in your pantry. If the ring is not on the jar, a bad seal would cause the lid to eventually raise up from the spoiled food gas in the jar but it wouldn’t explode because the ring isn’t there holding it down. (I didn’t know this until recently myself. Now I know why old-timers store jars without the rings on. I just thought they were being frugal. Turns out, they’ve learned lessons the hard way. Sometimes you can be unaware of a bad seal–until something explodes in your pantry if you’ve left the ring on!)

  8. blueberrylu says:

    I am so jealous, but in a good way, of your beautiful pantry. I am hoping to do some canning here soon. Tomatoes, apple sauce and I have saving and freezing my little handfuls of first year planted raspberries to make jam.

  9. Janet says:

    I love apples, too. There’s so many things to do with them. The deer also love them and we are visited every night by them and they graze under our trees. Thanks for the info on what to do with apples, I will try a few. I have a great apple cobbler and stovetop apple butter recipe on my sight and what’s a country meal without fried apples. Your pantry looks great! You’ve been very busy this summer.

  10. auntbear says:

    …love lookin’ in the pantry.Your posts take me way back to when my dear ole Aunt Dottie had me help with the canning chores.We kids were also enlisted to help pick the currants and it took a load of pickin’to satisfy her needs for the batches of jelly she put up.

  11. Lynda Dunham-Watkins says:

    Your pantry is beautiful. And like another reader, it reminds me of a time now past. Lovely memories when I had three at home, and we canned everything we could find! LOL Even sausage!

  12. Heidi says:

    Is Pepsi coming home today? I hope we see pictures of whoever it is tomorrow.

  13. Dawn says:

    I canned peaches one year and left them sitting on the counter just to admire for days! Your pantry looks lovely and thanks for the jar ring storing tip! And I’ll bet you’re gonna go get your soda pop goats!

  14. joycee says:

    How I love to come visit your kitchen! The pantry warmed the cockles of my heart, that’s not dirty…it’s a special place where childhood memories live! I’m running out of printer ink running all of your recipes and household hints…
    joy c. at grannymountain

  15. Ms E says:

    An older friend that cans taught me the trick of holding my jars in the oven on the lowest temp when I have a “canning production line” underway. Hot jars, hot product, hot water bath…works like a charm! An added bonus is the freeing up of counter and/or sink space that was consumed by jars waiting to be filled. You’ll be amazed at how many jars fit in an oven when they’re stacked on their side.

  16. Angela says:

    :sheepjump: Oh! How beautiful! I love the idea and explanation about the rings. Im going down to my canning pantry and removing all of the rings from my jars and storing them just like Suzanne!
    This is the best web site, just makes ya happy :sun:

  17. Donna says:

    Suzanne, if I was as HARD WORKING and CREATIVE as you, I would love to live in the country too. LOL But, I am not creative and not a hard worker.

    Oh, you didn’t hear that they just found out that the fruit preserver causes cancer???? JUST KIDDING. LOL (silly mood today!)

  18. Gini says:

    Your pantry is so beautiful!

  19. sondra says:

    A praiseworthy pantry! I like how you use the apple peels and core’s. I always take the peels and cook them down with some sugar and make fried pies. Love it best with peach peels.

  20. Pat says:

    Try and make apple tea out of the dried peels. It tastes very good.

  21. Shelly says:

    I think you should put ribbon or lace on your panry shelf edges to decorate them. You have a very nice full pantry though.

  22. Rituparna says:

    I am inspired. And just when I was thinking about making myself a batch of applesauce this year. With the amounts of cakes I bake I need to atleast start thinking health. Please do give me some direction on how to make applesauce….

  23. Angie says:

    Everything is gorgeous. I love looking at all the jars of canned summer goods, too.

  24. Roz says:

    The processing times for quarts and pints are the same, 20 minutes? That seems odd to me, but this is my first year of canning…I’m a newbie! I just don’t want to poison anybody!

  25. paulukon says:

    I just made this (canning kettle running right now). A couple comments: first, my husband LOVES this and that’s rare with my tries at canning except apple cider ;-). Second, I ended up with 16 pints for a double recipe! I used a mix of apples and thought maybe I’d have less as many of them were for sauce and so got mushy with the cooking. But no, I had 50% more than expected. I am delighted to find an apple canning recipe that isn’t the same old sauce/jelly/butter/pie filling. Thank you! I’m going to make it again soon with just raisins–DH didn’t even notice the cherries so why spend extra? Well, for me I will since I think they are pretty cool in it.

  26. paulukon says:

    An update after it’s all done: I’d recommend leaving a 1″ headspace. Every single one of my jars seeped liquid out; 2 didn’t seal and lost a LOT. I don’t think it’s that the dried fruit expands–if so, they’d just suck up the liquid in their expansion, wouldn’t they? It’s more that apples get bigger when they are heated (picture an apple then an apple you baked–it gets puffy and splits the peel).

    PS, please add this recipe to your index. I had to do a GoodSearch on the web to find it back because it wasn’t in the index (and I can’t find a search for your entire site?).

  27. leslietx says:

    Love the idea of drying apple peels and cores! I’m trying to understand your canning jar lid idea; is it a string that makes a circle and hooks to the nail? To add a new one, I would remove one side of the loop from the nail and add it–so it looks like a circle?

  28. leslietx says:

    OIC!! Thanks Suzanne!

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