From scratch of course!
Apple pie is widely known as the all-American dessert and for good reason. It tastes great, it’s frugal, and it’s easy to prepare from food storage. Apple pie is easy to customize to suit special diets and it’s universally well liked; in the world of desserts it is not that bad for you either! Cooking from scratch is not just a survival skill; it’s an everyday skill fewer and fewer people are learning. Knowing how to cook from scratch used to be second nature to everyone. Now cooking from scratch is being replaced by restaurants, delivery and instant food which are watched over by safety groups who think it is someone else’s responsibility to keep our food safe and healthy. Making apple pie won’t magically teach everyone how to cook from scratch, but it could be a first step in the right direction. Hopefully, I will convince everyone out there to give this a try with these easy and time-tested recipes.
Start out with a type of apple that is on the tart side, many people use Granny Smith apples, my personal favorite is McIntosh apples. The size of the apple doesn’t really matter as long as you end up with 6-8 cups of sliced and peeled apples. The secret to my apple pie is that I use very thinly sliced pieces of apple. So if you are cutting them by hand slice them as thinly as possible. The other option is to use an apple peeler like this one. Peelers like this make quick work of the apples. If you don’t have an apple peeler, using a potato peeler to peel apples also speeds things up a bit.
Save The Peels!
Don’t forget to save the peelings! Apple peels can be used for many things. Dry them in a dehydrator and then grind them up to use in tea, use them and the cores to make homemade pectin (to see an article on that click here) or use apple peelings and cores to make homemade cider vinegar. Red apple peels can be used to make an especially pretty pink jelly or if you enjoy smoothies – add chopped up frozen apple peels to a morning smoothies for added flavor and fiber. If all else fails the peelings can also be fed to chickens, horses or cows. If saving the peels for later uses, add in a splash lemon juice before storing them in the freezer or fridge to keep them from browning.
Put the store-bought frozen pie crust or box of mix away. It’s important to learn to make this from scratch; the end product will cost far less, be healthier, and will taste better. For the sake of article length, I want to direct you all to Alton Brown on Good Eats ( to see it click here) for a pie crust recipe and easy to follow instructions. It’s the one I use and it’s a fantastic easy recipe. Also, here is a gluten-free pie crust recipe from a different source that I have tried and also like, to see it click here. Unlike Good Eats recipe, I don’t use a food processor, I use a pastry cutter. If there is no power I can still use the pastry cutter (like the one pictured to the right) to cut in the butter and lard. It takes a little longer, but with some practice it’s easy to achieve the same results.
For food storage cooking, replace the butter in your recipe with powdered butter. If you have some lard or tallow for food storage purposes try to use it if at all possible to keep that part of the recipe intact, rendered lard or tallow will make a big difference in your end product. If there is no rendered lard or tallow, Crisco will also work. Another substitution you can try is using clarified butter.
FRUGAL TIP: Double or triple the above linked recipe, roll the extra pie crusts out between two sheets of wax paper. To store the crusts roll them up, place in Ziploc bag or plastic wrap and freeze for future use.
Line the pie pan with the bottom crust, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Assembling Apple Your Pie with Fresh Apples
My mom gave me this recipe, who received it from her mom. Did she invent it? No, she was a great cook, but she was not Betty Crocker. I am sure she got it somewhere – but I have no idea where.
- 6+ C Apples
- 3/4 C Sugar (This can be reduced or replaced with your choice of sugar substitute to accommodate those watching their blood sugar.)
- 1 TSP Cinnamon
- Dash or two of Nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 TBS Flour (This can be replaced with 1/2 sorghum flour and 1/2 corn starch for those who are gluten intolerant.)
- 3 TBS of chilled butter
Mix the sugar, spices and flour together well in a small bowl and set aside. Add the thinly sliced apples directly to a large pie plate laying them down flat, in at least 3 layers. After each layer of apples, sprinkle them with some of the dry ingredients until there is a fine layer of the mixture. The apples should fill the pie pan and mound up slightly in the middle. Cut the chilled butter up into chucks and sporadically add them to the top layer. Then add the top layer of pie crust, pinch the pieces of crust dough together. Vent the pie crust and then cover the outside rim of the pie with aluminum foil. Don’t cover the whole pie; just wrap the outside portion leaving the top open. This lets it bake longer without burning the crust. Bake the pie for 35 minutes at 400 degree F. Remove foil, and then put the pie back in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes (that’s 60 minutes total cooking time). Remove the pie and let it cool on a cooling rack. Serve with your preference of heavy cream or ice cream.
Don’t wait for an emergency to make one of these pies – make a dehydrated apple pie for your family as a quick dessert in the middle of the week, it saves time and money. As a bonus it’s healthier than many store-bought desserts and more loved.
- 5 C dehydrated apples (This will not make as big of a pie as the recipe above will – so use a smaller pie plate)
- Boiling water
- 1/2 – 3/4 c. sugar (When apples are dehydrated, the sugar in them is more concentrated so the recipe has been modified with less sugar than usual).
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1-1.5 TSP corn starch
- 3 TBS butter
- Lemon juice
Put the apples in a container that has a top, pour boiling water over them until they are just covered with water. Put the top on the dish and let it sit for one hour. After an hour has passed, if there is an excess of water in the dish, drain off the excess reserving some liquid at the bottom. Add a TBS or so of lemon juice at this point to add some tartness and extra vitamin C. Add the sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and salt directly to the apples. If you feel there is too much water at this point you can always add a little more corn starch and it will thicken up during baking. Pour the mixture into the pie pan and crust. Dot the apples with butter on the top just like I did above and add the top crust. Vent pie crust and cover the outside rim with foil to protect it from burning. Bake at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes. For an alternative cooking method, use a 12 inch Dutch Oven, and place the pie on a trivet, on the bottom of the Dutch oven, then cover it with the lid. Use hot coals from a fire or charcoal to cook the apple in the Dutch oven. A food storage apple pie may not have as much body as a fresh apple pie – but the taste will still be there! Enjoy!
Both of the recipes listed in this article are ones that have been handed down to me or that I came up with. There are many apple pie recipes out there, any similarities are merely coincidental.