Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's Apple Time in the Wine Country

Before the hills and valleys of Sonoma County were covered with wine grape vines, there were acres and acres of apples. The little town of Sebastopol is where the canned (in a tin) applesauce was invented. Hops and prunes were important crops, too. After all, beer needs hops and prunes are just dried plums, but very good for snacking and keeping the plumbing going, too.

So now that it is fall, the Gravensteins have come and gone, but there are still lots of apples being harvested. Above is a truck that was picking up wooden boxes filled with fresh apples one morning this week. I passed it on the way to work.

Some apples are processed into apple juice, apple sauce, and used for apple cider vinegar. Others go into pies and fresh apples from local farms are sold at local grocery stores and farm stands for eating out of hand and for baking. When was the last time that you made something with fresh apples? Apple pie is a classic, but a baked apple, stuffed with some nuts, raisins, and brown sugar is really easy and tasty. If you bake it in the microwave, you can have it ready to eat in minutes.

If you are going to make a pie or chop up apples for a Waldorf salad or other apple dishes, you need to removed the core.

How to easily core an apple

There are lots of different ways to peel an apple, including using one of those appliances you can find at a good hardware store. I often leave the skin on when I cook and bake with apples because I like the skin and more of the nutrients are retained that way. Before you core the apple, you should peel the apple, (if you are going to remove the peel).

There are also lots of ways to remove the core and stem and blossom end from an apple. The one that I like, because it is quick and easy, is to cut the apple in half through the stem and blossom ends. Take a melon baler tool – it has a handle and on each end are metal half balls, usually in two sizes – and choose the end that seems the right size for your apple. Use the half ball to scoop the core out. Then use a paring knife to cut a small triangle piece out at the stem and blossom end.

Done! Ready for slicing or cutting for whatever recipe you are using.


  1. If you visit Shackford's, in Napa, or Hardestey's, in Santa Rosa, you'll find a neat little gizmo which peels, slices, cores all in one go (or leaves the peels on, if you'd rather), with a hand-crank. Truly a worthwhile investment. :)

  2. Davimack, That's the gizmo I was talking about that I bought at the hardware store. It's great if you are doing a lot of apples, especially if they are apples with straight cores, but for just one or two, it's overkill...setting it up (finding a place to clamp it is my worst problem), cleaning up the juice it spits, cleaning up the gizmo, storing it again versus one small melon baller used over a cutting board...much faster and cleaner. It does do a good job of peeling, coring, making a super spiral slice, but if it's a small apple, you lose a lot of the apple when it cores it because the part that takes out the core is one size. I use it when I'm processing a lot of apples for a couple of pies or a lot of applesauce. Then it's the bomb!

  3. You use the melon baller technique as well! I love doing that. It is so much easier than hacking out the middle bit... and that way you get an even slice on the apple halves. Yay for ingenuity!

  4. All true, all true. I got one for my niece which has a suction foot instead of a clamp, so that solved one issue with it, provided you've a smooth-topped work surface like granite or glass or something. But you're right about everything else. :)