This past weekend, I picked many of the apples on my tree and made large batches of applesauce for canning and freezing. While making applesauce isn’t that hard, and making applesauce from scratch gives me total control of what goes into it, peeling and coring apples for applesauce can be a royal pain.
Peeling and coring apples is a routine kitchen chore if you like to make applesauce, apple pie, apple crisp, or other preparations of fresh apples.
I don’t have an apple corer, or one of those special tools that peels and cores apples for you (sold by some garden-supply companies online). With ordinary kitchen tools, though, I can peel and core 10 pounds of apples in about 30-45 minutes. Here’s how I do it.
First, a little apple terminology and anatomy. The stem end of the apple is the end with a bit of stem sticking out. Many people think of this as the top of the apple. The blossom end is where the dying flower was attached to the apple. There is usually a little bit of brown material here, and it is on what most people think of as the bottom of the fruit.
I start peeling an apple (prewashed of course) by running a vegetable peeler around the blossom end (bottom) and stem end (top) of the apple. This removes a donut of peel around each end of the apple, and flattens out some of the irregularities at the top and bottom of the fruit.
Next, I run the peeler from one end to the other end end of the apple, removing strips of peel lengthwise between the two donuts of removed peel. It doesn’t matter whether you work from blossom end to stem end, or the other way around. For safety, it’s best to start with the end of the apple closest to you, and push the peeler away from your body. Mind your fingers! As you remove each strip of peel, turn the apple slightly so that you can work your way around the fruit.
Once the apple is peeled, I use a paring knife and a cutting board to core it. First, I cut the peeled apple in half lenghwise, from top (stem end) to bottom (blossom end). I place each half on the board, cut-side down, and cut lengthwise again, from blossom end to stem end. I now have an apple cut into quarters.
To remove the core and the seeds, I stand each quarter up on end, holding it with one hand. Holding the paring knife in the other hand, I cut the core out, from top (stem end) to bottom (blossom end), in a single cut.
To retain more of the fruit, or for attractive curved slices, I could instead remove the core by making two cuts in the shape of a V around the seeds, and then prying out the triangle of the core. If I am peeling and coring large amounts of apples, it is much faster to use the single-cut method.
If you prefer thin slices, use the paring knife or a larger knife to make these once you have cored the apple quarters. You can also cut the apple into dice by making regularly spaced perpendicular cuts, to form small cubes.
When I’m peeling and coring lots of apples, I usually wash a batch of apples and then peel the entire batch over a sink or garbage can. I then work on coring the entire batch with my knife and cutting board. This goes much faster than peeling and then coring each apple individually.