Like most southerners, when I think of autumn, I think of cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors… and apples. As in picking apples at the local apple orchard, drinking sweet and spicy cider and delighting in thick slices of apple pie. It’s an exciting season of fall foods, so I’m sharing four of my favorite ways to enjoy a delicious seasonal fruit – the humble apple.
Apples that do well in the south are those that remain crisp in the summer, will fight off diseases and that will make it through to fall and can be used for eating or cooking. There’s a long growing season for apples in the south, all the way from June to late October. A personal favorite of mine is Honey Crisp. This variety of apples were actually first developed in Minnesota but they do well in the south and you are sure to find them included at your grocer this fall.
Apples for Breakfast
Fall is the time of year my palate turns towards warm breakfasts. I’ve most likely spent the summer starting each day with blueberries, blackberries or strawberries atop yogurt or waffles so the change of season brings a need for sweaters and heartier breakfast that takes a little longer to prepare.
As a child, there were many breakfasts at my mamaw’s house in East Tennessee where cooked apples appeared on the breakfast table. She would serve them alongside eggs and toast. If she didn’t have cooked apples then she definitely had some applesauce but you never knew it until after the meal was over because she always forgot to pull it out of the fridge. As we asked to be excused from breakfast, she’d inevitably go to put out her cigarette only to exclaim, “I forgot the applesauce. Y’all sit back down.”
If you are a bread lover like myself then you’ve probably tried apple butter on a biscuit, but if you haven’t, please do. My recommendation is to pick some up at your local farmer’s market.
My favorite use of apples for breakfast is in a crisp. It’s not only a great breakfast from the fiber you get in the oatmeal but it also makes for a great dessert when served warm with a scoop of Bluebell Vanilla ice cream. If you’re looking to cut the sugar then you can sweeten the crisp with honey.
Apples for Lunch
Surprisingly there are some great salads that can be made with foods in the fall season in the south. My favorite is to toss a spinach or spring mix with Gala or Honey Crisp apples, blue cheese, mandarin oranges and toasted or candied pecans. The mix of textures in such a salad is truly divine!
You can also make a great vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar. Just whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
Sippin’ on Apples
Let’s not forget about all the warmth and deliciousness that is in a good apple cider. May I have your attention Crock-Pot lovers! This one is for you. Throw in apples (cut in large slices), maple syrup, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, nutmeg, and water (enough to cover) into a slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. The waiting isn’t so bad when you realize how wonderful this will make your house smell. Mash the apples in the slow cooker then use a cheesecloth to strain out the ingredients. Serve warm. And I wouldn’t be southern if I didn’t also add that if you’d like to splash some bourbon in your cider then by all means, do.
Apples for Dessert
Hopefully, by now your thoughts about apples have been broadened but I would be remiss to not mention the place an apple can truly shine: apple pie. There’s a reason for the saying ‘easy as pie.’ Most pies really are easy to make, especially if you’re like me and you (don’t tell) buy the piecrust. A trick I read in Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table cookbook, which is a great read, is to cook your apples in a skillet before filling your pie with them. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked apples to piecrust. This helps to reduce the apple juices are created during the baking process and can make for a very watery filling.
The options seem to be endless when it comes to apples so whether you are picking them yourself and making a homemade cider or if you’re just picking up a store-bought apple pie, enjoy the flavor that is held in different varieties this fall.
For a full list of great fall foods in the south, you can check out episode 45 (link below) of the Steel Magnolias Podcast, and if you like it please leave us a review!
Laura Beth Peters, one-half of the popular southern culture podcast, Steel Magnolias lives near Nashville, Tennesse. Each week on the Steel Magnolias podcast she and her sister Lainey cover southern topics including cooking, events, traditions, homemaking, history, music, and more.
Grab a seat, a glass of hot apple cider and listen in as Laura Beth and her sister, Lainie Stubblefield talk about their trip through the hills of Tennessee and then dive into the foods that are now in season for fall in the south, including apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and much more.
BUY THE BOOK