A special thanks to Greg Hayes from Live Fit Blog for this helpful article on how to use apples in your cooking. Enjoy!
Making Use of Apples in Recipes
Everyone loves apples. You can eat them raw, juice them, dip them in peanut butter, or cut them up for the kids lunchbox. But, aside from apple pie, they’re often overlooked in recipes. Since there are very few calories in an apple, when harnessed properly in recipes, they give the advantage of added nutrition, phenomenal flavor, and of course, fewer calories. So, try these ideas during your next stint in the kitchen.
A common technique to reduce calories in recipes is to substitute apple sauce for butter. This works well for most recipes, but can create problems with moisture content and consistency. An excellent alternative, which is more commonly used as a spread on breads and toast, apple butter works well in most baked goods. Expect to pick up a hint of apple flavor in the recipe, but it won’t be overpowering.
Apple stews and syrups make an excellent topping for dishes ranging from meats to breakfast items. Quick and easily made, most recipes start with a tart, crisp apple like a Granny Smith or Macintosh. Slices can be pan-fried in butter, and then cooked down with a mixture of cinnamon and brown sugar. Alternatively, rapidly sautÃ©ing the slices in peanut oil at high temperatures, then adding butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon leaves the apple crisper. Either approach yields a topping suitable for use over meats, like pork or filet mignon. The mixture can be made more syrupy by substituting water for oil, and cooking the mixture down more slowly. This yields softer apple slices, which creates a topping better suited for pancakes or waffles.
Frequently discarded, apple peels are a rich source of both pectin (a thickening agent), and fiber. Instead of tossing peels in the trash, try using them in place of corn starch or other thickeners in sauces. Putting diced peels directly into the sauce and heating slowly will also sweeten the sauce. Apple slices also make great toppings for ice cream or frozen yogurts if diced, coated with a brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and baked.
Sweet apples, diced or even minced, make a wonderful counterpoint to both salty and hot flavors in a variety of dishes. Often incorporated into turkey stuffing, cooked alongside sausage, or even served curried, apples help counter the sometimes overpowering flavor of these stronger ingredients.
There are a myriad of other ways apples can be incorporated into recipes to enhance flavor and texture. As we’ve said, building them into your recipes as a substitute to the more common sweeteners makes a wonderful counterpoint to both salty and peppery flavors, while adding a little crunch for flavor. Use your imagination to see how they can improve your next stint in the kitchen.
About the author: Greg Hayes is the author of Live Fit Blog, where you can find healthy living tips, as well as tools for fitting fitness into busy lives.