Even though the apples I can get here in Texas are hardly to be called apples compared to the fresh apples available elsewhere in the country right now, I am enjoying them, even if begrudgingly. The farmers' market options are nothing stellar. I buy a basket here and there just to support that their effort, but I am honestly still searching for the best place to buy apples. Whole Foods is pricey, but one of the better options. Costco is the best price for organics, but the variety is limited. And the other grocery stores leave me saying, meh. I just want to know where to buy a Stayman Winesap, Mutsu, or Northern Spy in this town. Is that too much to ask? It must be. Because almost all the apple varieties here are SWEET apples. Honeycrisps are everywhere. Personally, I'm not a fan. I like my apples to have some tang. And that is hard to come by in the grocery store variety. I can find a Pink Lady if I'm lucky. And then there are always Granny Smiths.
So, despite the lack of species variety, I am doing my best to mix it up around here.
I've found my kids' interest in apples soars when I serve it differently. So, I've been rotating techniques on apple butchering. Often I toss whole apples in my bag for easy snacks when we are out, but that isn't always as enticing. And Carter can never finish an entire apple during his super short lunch period along with the difficulties of critical apple biting teeth in transition. So, I must cut.
The kids love it when I will cut apples in halves and cut out the seeds to leave the perfect indent for filling with peanut or sunflower butter.
Rings are all the rage in these parts. Just core and make horizontal slices. This always go directly onto their fingers for easy portability.
Then there are the classic wedges. I go for extreme wedges here. Super thick quarters or wafer thin slices. I personally love the super thins. Especially on sandwiches.
And then sometimes chunks, big and tiny-sized minced (my favorite for my morning granola or oatmeal).
And one more item of business. Peels. I'm leaving them all on, all the time around here. My reasons are mixed. I could preach the goodness of the entire apple, how the nutrition is concentrated in the peel as my dad always told me just to force us to eat the whole thing. It is true and the fiber is a big part of that.
But my choice is also sloth. I decided I am tired of peeling apples. From now on, unless it is crucial to the recipe, which it often isn't, the peels stay on. So far, I've made applesauce, muffins,crisps, cake, pie, scones, curries, sautes, and stuffing with the peels on. And no one complained, batted an eye or refused, even people I couldn't threaten with time-out for insubordination.
I also liked the textural difference. I think that cutting them small enough is the key to this one. Chop your apples smaller or slice them thinner and the peels won't be large, distracting, chewy leathery bits. And when making applesauce I put the chunks of unpeeled apples in my uber-powerful blender and blend them to oblivion and then cook or don't cook the puree as long as I wish. No, straining or food milling, at all. Amen, to less work, more nutrition, and less waste.
How about you, how do you mix it up? And to peel or not to peel?