We have several family traditions that we try to fulfill each year…one of my favorites is apple picking! The bonus on the back end of this tradition is spending an afternoon in the kitchen whipping up some apple pie fillings to satisfy our sweet cravings throughout the year until it’s picking time again! We usually head to the orchard early in October to get our favorites before the trees are bare but we’ll always make the trip even if we can’t go at the most opportune time! This year we got really lucky and could squeeze it in while the trees were just dripping with fruit…it also happened to be the Apple Butter Festival that weekend! So while it was fun to see all the activities, crafts, and food offerings, the lines were almost too long to bear AND our favorite apple cider doughnuts were completely sold out for the day! But that just means that we’ll HAVE to make another quick trip for a bag full of sugary goodness…like I said, it’s tradition! Even though we didn’t get our doughnuts, we did spend a perfect fall day filling up our half-bushel bag with a combo of Granny Smith and Jonathan apples right from the tree! And a week later…it was time to peel, chop, and cook the fruit into gooey, bubbly, sweet smelling pie fillings to keep in the freezer! So that’s exactly what we did yesterday afternoon…spent some time together making the kitchen smell absolutely heavenly! And along with the fillings, we HAD to make a pie too…just to make sure everything tasted OK of course! I’ve shared my grandmother’s recipe before but I’ll include another printable copy…just in case you missed it! It’s SO good and SO easy…I really hope you try it!
fun in the orchard…fun in the kitchen!
i love MacQueen’s orchards! it’s where we’ve picked apples since the boys were tiny…and it just wouldn’t seem right not to make at least one trip here for baked goods, pumpkins & gourds, cider…and apples! the apple butter festival is also a fun time to visit…lots of fall activities and sights to make the season festive! when we arrived at the entrance these gorgeous guys were getting ready to take some passengers for a ride!
but for us, it was directly off to the orchards…we had some serious apple picking to do!
i LOVE the gnarly trees filled with the Jonathan apples…they remind me of Halloween! this one looks like it could reach right out and grab you!
i made sure to pick a couple tiny ones for some fall treats…maybe some miniature caramel apples?
but for our pies we need two varieties so we couldn’t forget the Granny Smiths for just the right amount of tartness!
we fill our bag as full as we can pack it…so it takes two to carry it out!
sometimes we make the pie fillings as soon as we get home from the orchard…but usually we have to wait a few days ’til we have a chunk of time for the peeling & cooking! fortunately, you can keep apples for a week or so in a cool, dry place…and nibble on them in the meantime too! but we only had to wait a week for a slot of time on Sunday afternoon to start the pie filling production line! everything taste better with a tiny bit of butter…
so the really fun part is actually peeling & coring the apples…especially with the help of a peeler! it makes such quick work of what ordinarily might be a tedious job and is fascinating to see how it leaves the colorful skin in a pile of twisted ribbon…
some were so juicy i should have worn a rain cap! let’s just say even my face and hair were a tad sticky this time!
but all the juicy mess is worth it! and when you’ve got a line-up of peelers, choppers, measurers, (is that a word?) and stirrers…the process goes rather quickly! but even if you’re in the kitchen solo, a couple hours of work will leave you with potentially a years worth of pie! we always have several cooking on the stove at different stages while we peel up more…
and even though we sent my parents home with apples this year, we still came up with 9 fillings for the freezer and one to sample! not bad!
when they’re completely cool we pack them up in containers, label them, and they’re ready to freeze! these plastic containers from Costco are the perfect size for one pie filling! they stack nicely AND are reusable so when they’re done holding filling they can hold leftovers!
i mentioned we HAD to sample one pie…just to make sure those fillings tasted right! so i don’t think i need to mention again how wonderful my kitchen smelled…but i just did, didn’t i?! i found this adorable pie box at Michael’s earlier this fall and have been waiting anxiously to use it! i let the apple crumb pie cool on top so i wouldn’t forget to use it!
a box like this is great for storing pie for a short amount of time…the dry container will keep the crust and topping crispier than if it were covered in plastic!
such a cute container no matter what’s inside…and you gotta love the message!
and just in case we have too much leftover…i found these adorable, cardboard, slice-of-pie boxes in the dollar spot at Target! such a sweet way to offer up a slice to a friend…maybe i should have baked two!
whether you give a slice to friends or just let the family indulge…i hope you try my grandma’s apple pie recipe this fall! don’t forget to print off a copy!