From the kitchen

Cooking apples with savory ingredients provides subtle sweetness

Hieu Nguyen | Contributing Photographer

Throwing sliced apples on top of a salad is a great way to spice up your leafy fix.

In a state teeming with orchards, apple picking is a Syracuse fall tradition. As the weather starts to cool off, everyone begins breaking out their flannels and vests, heading to the nearest orchard for apples, cider donuts and tons of pictures.

About 20 minutes south of the bustle of downtown Syracuse is Beak & Skiff Orchard. In addition to the endless rows of trees where you can pick-your-own bushel, Beak & Skiff has a bakery, general store, a tasting room and a cafe.

In the bakery, they offer killer cider donuts, pies and jugs of apple cider. The general store has an overwhelming selection of knick-knacks, local honey, packs of hot mulled cider, salsa, jams and butters.

The famous 1911 Established cider and spirits also sits on the premises. This “tree to bottle” cider uses 100 percent Beak & Skiff apples for their line of hard ciders. Flavors include raspberry, hopped IPC, ginger, blueberry, grapefruit and original.

Beak & Skiff is not only a great spot to get your fill of apples, but it is also a stunningly beautiful place where, at its highest point, you can see miles and miles of landscape in the distance. Even if apples aren’t your thing, grab a coffee or tea and take in the beautiful fall foliage that is incomparable to almost anywhere else. It feels as if you’ve been transported somewhere serene and untouched, not 20 minutes away from a loud, bustling city.

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Hiey Nguyen | Contributing Photographer

But inevitably, anyone who has ever gone apple picking knows you always pick more apples than you know what to do with. Sure, you can make an apple pie, but there are much better — and more creative — ways to integrate your apple haul into everyday meals. The classic apple pie will always be the best way to eat your apples, but if you are searching for something a little more intriguing, look no further:

Throwing it back to elementary school, applesauce is one of the easiest uses of your apple haul. All you need is apples, water, sugar and salt and about 25 minutes. If you want to get a little more sophisticated, add in a sprig of rosemary, sage and thyme to give your applesauce a little extra body.

Apples can be used in savory dishes as well. As an advocate for using ingredients where they seemingly don’t belong, I can vouch that apple and pork is actually one of the best sweet-savory combinations, especially for fall. Grate one apple and mix it with a 1-pound package of ground pork and a half pound of uncased breakfast sausage. Mix in 1 clove of grated garlic and salt and pepper, form into patties and cook on medium high heat for about five minutes.

Potatoes and apples also go well together, and that’s not just because potato in French — pomme de terre — literally translates as apple of the earth. Shred an apple and a russet potato together and mix with 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Drop big spoonfuls of the mix into a skillet of butter and cook for about four minutes per side. Crunchy, sweet and savory — perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

Sliced apples are also a great addition to any salad, oatmeal, slaw or chutney. Whether you dip your apples directly into the peanut butter jar or you make a pork chop choucroute, apples are a very flexible and diverse fruit for cooking.

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