With the first chilly Fall mornings, a frugalista's thoughts turn to - apples? They're cheap this time of year, they're nutritious and they're versatile. Whether you take a weekend trip to your local U-pick farm, or buy them on sale at the grocery store, there's a lot you can do with them.
Apples are the perfect lunch box fruit. They don't need peeling, they're not messy and most kids and adults like them. Just make sure to wash before eating if they're not organic, to remove pesticides.
Peeled and sliced, you can bake them into a pie, or simmer them into a side dish that's good with kielbasa, pork chops or chicken.
Chop them up and simmer them down, add a little cinnamon and brown sugar, and you've got apple sauce. Apple sauce can also be canned and enjoyed year round.
Sliced and dried, you can seal them into air-tight bags or jars and keep them a long time. I see dehydrators all the time at yard sales and thrift stores.
On a really cold winter day, I like to bake apples. I core them, put them in a cake pan, and fill the hole with pats of butter, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon. Then I bake them at 350 degrees until they're soft.
If you've got the right equipment, you can make cider and juice. If not, you can buy it at your local orchard or farmer's market. It's full of vitamins. I like mine hot, with spices (mulled). Here's a recipe:
2 qts. apple cider
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1 orange (unpeeled)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. whole cloves
Combine cider, sugar, ginger and orange in slow cooker. Tie cinnamon and cloves in a small cheesecloth bag; add to crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW 2 to 4 hours. The entire house will smell great! Remove the bag of spices. In a mug put a shot of brandy, then fill with hot mix from cooker. If you don't want the brandy, just serve as is from the cooker.Makes 10 to 12 servings
A little hard on the teeth perhaps, but caramel apples are another Autumn favorite. Just insert popsicle sticks, melt some caramel candies in the microwave with a little milk, dip, and allow to cool.
If you want to get crafty, you can try a project I did once as a kid - apple dolls. There are some instructions here:
No matter how you slice, dice or spice them, apples are an inexpensive, healthful and delicious fruit that should be on your fall grocery list.