Simmer down, pumpkin spice. September isn’t over yet. As far as I’m concerned, apples are still where it’s at.
Every September, donned in our checked shirts and cute boots, the fam and I hit the local apple orchard to get our pickin’ on. Baskets in hand, we pack like sardines onto a well-worn wagon lined with hay bales. It’s a bumpy ride that brings us to the middle of a massive apple grove, where other festively dressed families wander through rows of trees trying to figure out the difference between Cortland and McIntosh. Because let’s face it, after sampling a dozen or more, they all start to taste the same. (Except for those Honeycrisp, am I right?!).
We do our best to get our money’s worth, filling our baskets to the tippity top. We depart a bit shell-shocked after spending a small fortune because we also had to get that apple pie in a paper bag and those I-would-consider-giving-up-my-first-child-for-a-lifetime-supply of warm apple cider donuts shaken with cinnamon sugar.
Eventually we get our bounty home—that is, after sharing with my husband a few, what I’m sure he also heard as welcome, reminders to stop driving like a maniac and go easy in the roundabouts so we don’t have too many apple escapees rolling about the car.
The next few days we crush it. We eat apples with breakfast. I pack them in school lunches. We take them on the way to soccer practice. We munch on them as a late-night snack. But soon enough, we’re all apple’d out…and it barely looks like we made a dent.
Fresh, hot apple compote spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg and maple syrup to the rescue! Compote may sound fancy, but it’s so, so easy to make. Everything cooks in one pot and you can whip up a batch in under 30 minutes. Best of all, it stays good in the fridge for about a week (or freeze for up to 3 months) so there no rush to eat it. Although I’m guessing it won’t last that long.
Serve it warm…
Over vanilla ice cream
Layered with granola in yogurt parfaits
On top of waffles and pancakes
On roasted pork tenderloin or grilled chops
In hand-held pies made with store-bought pie crust
Heck, on a spoon!
Really, guys, give this one a try. Make a double batch and spread the happy by giving a jar to a friend or neighbor.
Recommended Apple Varieties: I used Cortland, but you could use any good baking apple, such as Granny Smith, Jonagold, Honeycrisp, Melrose, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Gala or Pink Lady.