It’s apple season! A crisp, sweet-tart apple is the ultimate go-to snack, but these red, gold and green beauties are also great for baking — and even making apple cider. Read on for some of our best tips on choosing and prepping apples, plus delicious ways to prepare them from the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen.
Look for: Apples should have unbroken skin with good color and no soft brown spots. Whenever possible, buy newly harvested local apples. Because they continue to ripen at room temperature, refrigerate them in the cold back part of the refrigerator for 1 week or longer. If you plan to eat them soon after purchase, they can be held at room temperature for a few days.
Prep tips: A small, sharp knife is all you need for peeling and slicing apples, although a vegetable peeler may be faster and easier. Specially designed apple corers are also useful tools. Exposed apple flesh will brown quickly unless it’s rubbed with lemon or other citrus juice. Here’s your toolkit:
- Apple Peeler/Corer, for peeling, coring and slicing apples (and pears and potatoes!)
- All-Clad Essential Pan, to cook apples into applesauce and apple butter, and to make fillings for pies and desserts
- Glass Pie Dish, for baking apple pies
- Cuisinart Food Processor, for making crusts and crumble toppings
- Dial-a-Slice Apple Divider, to uniformly slice apples
- Apple Pie Spice, for adding flavor and aroma to crisps, pies, cobblers, tarts and turnovers
Uses: Sweet, thin-skinned apples are best for eating raw, as a snack out of hand or paired with aged cheese, while tart apples are ideal for making pies, cakes, pastries or applesauce. The most recognizable varieties for eating fresh include Red Delicious, sweet Golden Delicious, tart and green Granny Smith, red- and yellow-streaked Gala and the red-marbled McIntosh. Bakers seek out varieties such as Jonathan, Cortland, Pippin, Winesap, Gravenstein and Braeburn for their sturdy texture that balance sweetness with pronounced tartness and hints of spiciness. For more tips on the best varieties for specific uses, see our Apple Guide.
Shaved Apple & Fennel Salad: Whisk together apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, chopped fennel fronds, canola oil, salt and pepper. Using a mandoline, thinly shave peeled Granny Smith apples and fennel. Toss with vinaigrette and garnish with fennel fronds.
Pork Chops with Apple-Calvados Sauce: Sear bone-in pork chops in saute pan until browned; transfer to a baking sheet and finish in oven. In same pan, saute thinly sliced shallots and Gala apples until golden. Deglaze pan with Calvados. Add chicken stock and simmer until apples are tender. Whisk in butter, chives, salt and pepper. Serve over pork chops.
Smoked Trout and Apple Salad: Whisk together white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss mixed greens with vinaigrette and thin slices of Fuji apples. Top with pieces of smoked trout and a dollop of creme fraiche.
Cabbage and Apple Coleslaw: Combine thinly sliced red or green cabbage (or a mixture) with coarsely grated Granny Smith apples and thinly sliced green onions. Whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over cabbage mixture; toss to combine.
Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins: Toss chopped walnuts and raisins with brown sugar, melted butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Fill 8 cored apples with walnut mixture; place in a buttered baking dish. Bake at 350ºF until apples are tender and filling is bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes.
Savory Apple Tart with Gruyere: Place chilled puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet; brush pastry with olive oil. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, salt and pepper; top with grated Gruyere and tart apple slices. Bake at 350ºF until golden brown, about 20 minutes.