Dining with Apples from Salad to Dessert

Liberty is one of the late-season apples at Russell Orchards, Ipswich, Massachusetts. (Carlin Carr)

NO FOOD is more versatile or adaptable than apples. 

Apples are equally good eaten fresh or cooked.

Apples go well with just about every food, sweet or savory; fresh-sliced with peanut butter, in a sandwich with cheddar, mustard, and onions, or baked wrapped in haddock.  

Apples can be roasted, dried, or made into butter or sauce; sautéed with cinnamon for an omelet at breakfast, added to a salad at lunch, mixed with mac and cheese at dinner, or in a pie, tart, or cobbler for dessert. Apples can be served at any course of any meal on any occasion.

Judith Maloney of West County Cider, Shelburne, Massachusetts, the nation’s first commercial hard cider producer, serves samples during CiderDays. (Bar Lois Weeks)
Carol Hillman, 94, began producing hard cider at New Salem Preserves, New Salem, Massachusetts, just two years ago. (Russell Steven Powell)

Apples take on new life and flavors as cider, fresh or hard, sweet to dry, or further distilled into syrup or vinegar, made into wine or brandy. 

Apple flavors range from sweet to tart, with notes of pear, strawberry, lemon, nuts, or tea. The flavor of some varieties becomes richer and more complex as they age. 

Apples come in an array of shapes, sizes, and shades: BurgundyCrimsonPinkRoseRuby, and WineGold and GreenBrownBlue, and Orange — even Black; streaked or spotted or solid. Apple flesh is soft as a pear, crunchy as cauliflower, juicy as a plum. 

Apples come small enough to fit in a child’s hand, large enough to fill a lunchbox. They burst with juice but won’t spill in your car or leak in your pocket. Stored properly, locally grown apples can be enjoyed year-round.

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THE APPLE’S VERSATILITY is on full display in these apple recipes featuring kale, lentils, squash, raisins, and blueberries.

Apple-Kale Salad is deceptively simple, with just three ingredients (apples, kale, and walnuts, with a tangy dressing) but plenty of flavor and texture. The apple chunks provide a pleasing contrast to the crunchy nuts and leafy kale, and their sweetness counters the kale’s light bitterness. The apple’s juice blends right in with the spicy dressing.

Golden Delicious apples are among the apples still on the trees and in the farm store at Steere Orchard, Greenville, Rhode Island. (Carlin Carr)

Apples add flavor and depth to the nicely spiced, aromatic dish Curried Cortland and Lentil-stuffed Delicata Squash Boats. Delicata is the preferred variety due to its thin, edible rind, but acorn is a fine alternative if delicata is unavailable. The boats can be served as a main course or a side with an entrée like Golden Apple Stuffed Fillets.

An antique wooden cider press decorated with apples at Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, during CiderDays. (Bar Lois Weeks)

For dessert, Baked Apples with Fruit is a refreshing take on an old standard. The added fruit adds rich flavor to the apples without overpowering them, and makes this simple but satisfying dish a perfect ending to a home-cooked meal, equally good served warm or cold at lunch or breakfast.

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THE 27th ANNUAL Franklin County CiderDays, the oldest and largest gathering of its kind in the nation, had beautiful weather this past weekend.

Meanwhile, activity remains brisk at orchards throughout the region. Most farm stores remain open, and some late-season apples are still on the trees. Click on our Orchard Finder to see what’s available at some of the finest orchards in the region.

Students at Brandeis University learned about locally grown apples during a special, apple-themed event in October in the dining commons arranged by campus dietitian Nolan B. Reese.

The colors of fall mingle with a well-preserved pickup truck at Russell Orchards, Ipswich, Massachusetts. (Carlin Carr)
Clarkdale Fruit Farms, Deerfield, Massachusetts, was a busy place during Franklin County CiderDays this past weekend. (Russell Steven Powell)
New England Apple Association Executive Director Russell Steven Powell discusses apples with Brandeis University students during an apple-themed day in the dining commons in mid-October. (Alexander Zolotov)
Baked Apples with Fruit. (Jonathan A. Wright)

Baked Apples with Fruit

A fresh take on an easy-to-make apple classic, by Jonathan A. Wright of Northampton, Massachusetts. Delicious served warm or cold!

Four firm Cortland or other New England apples, cored, not peeled.

Spritz with juice of 1 lemon.

In a skillet or saucepan, heat ½ c fresh cider, a splash of maple syrup, and the juice of one orange.

When mixture comes to a simmer, add 1/3 c fresh blueberries and ¼ c golden raisins. Simmer until raisins are plump and blueberries sag.

Spoon fruit into cores, reduce liquid by about 1/3 to thicken, and pour into and over the apples.

Bake loosely covered until apples are soft and golden-skinned.

Serve with local maple syrup or vanilla yogurt.

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