Did you buy a big bushel of in-season apples, only to have them slowly become mush in the back of your cupboard? Fret not; we have 10 of our favorite tasty recipes to use up and enjoy any leftover apples on their last legs.
We've all been there. We see a big red sale sign at the grocery store and convince ourselves we'll eat an apple a day until the bushel is gone – we have to, at a price like that!
If you end up with way too many apples and not enough time to get through them before they go bad, we have plenty of uses below for apples that aren't entirely bad, but maybe a little soft, a little mealy, or just not ideal for eating fresh anymore.
Luckily, there are countless ways to cook past their prime apples, and most recipes will completely disguise a so-so tasting apple with spices and other intense flavors.
Try one of our suggestions below to cut down your food waste and use up those old apples at home!
How Do You Know if Apples Are Bad?
Apples have quite a long shelf-life for fresh fruit, but even they have their limitations.
- If you're worried your apples have gone off, look for any visible signs of mold – moldy apples should be tossed immediately.
- Keep watch for small holes in the skin that expose the apple to more air, causing them to go bad a little sooner.
- Squeeze the apple – if it's soft and squishy, it's time to toss it.
- Bruised apples are okay, as long as only the bruised area is soft – cut that bit out before eating.
Are wrinkled apples okay to eat?
If the skin of your apple is wrinkled, it's still okay to eat. You may even eat an apple that is a little soft to the touch if it still tastes good – it all comes down to preference and how much food textures tend to bother you.
We compiled our favorite recipes below to prepare apples that are on the verge of going bad and might not be as enjoyable to eat fresh as they were in their prime.
The only apples you absolutely need to toss are moldy apples that are long beyond the point of saving and can make you pretty sick.
Besides that one hard and fast rule, you can use your smell, touch, and taste – try sampling a small slice if you're considering saving older apples.
What to Do With Soft Apples: Our 10 Favorite Old Apple Uses
#1: Chop them and toss them into apple pancakes or muffins
One of our favorite recipes to use old apples is in a thick apple pancake with a latke texture but a much sweeter flavor.
No need to add syrup to these naturally sweet pancakes – though we still do, of course!
You can also toss chopped apple chunks into your muffin batter and bake away for a tasty treat come breakfast time.
#2: Bake some apple pie
Though you'll want to avoid mealy apples that can affect a sweet apple pie's flavor, you don't need to use ripe apple slices.
If your apples are going bad and you're not ready for a pie, you can make the apple filling ahead of time and freeze it to make some convenient pies later.
#3: Try your hand at apple bread
Much like zucchini, carrots, and bananas, apples make a delicious addition to simple bread recipes. Grate your apples into smaller pieces that make a sweet, moist loaf – top with apple butter for some double apple action!
#4: Make some healthy applesauce
Applesauce is so ridiculously easy to make at home that once you try it, you'll never buy it from the store again. Using bruised apple slices won't change the taste – simply core the apples and toss them in a pot.
Add a few other essential pantry items, cook, and enjoy some spicy cinnamon applesauce that's delicious on its own or stirred into a bowl of warm oatmeal. You don't need to peel the apples first, and you can up the health factor by omitting the sugar and enjoying the natural sweetness of applesauce.
#5: Make some rich, creamy apple butter
If you don't feel like stopping at applesauce, cook your apples a little longer to make deliciously creamy apple butter, the perfect spread for a warm piece of sliced sourdough.
Use an apple peeler like this to remove the fruit's skin, then toss your cored, spoiled apple bits in the slow cooker and keep them cooking for hours until they reach a glossy, thick, golden-brown spread.
#6: Whip up a sweet apple smoothie
The perfect way to start most days is with a fiber and vitamin-filled smoothie. Although apples are less popular than some other fruit ingredients, a sliced ripe or wrinkled apple makes a delicious addition, especially mixed in a classic combo with peanut butter, plus a splash of almond milk and a date or two.
#7: Cook down a sweetly tart compote
One of the best ways to use old apples is by making a chunky, sweet compote with some brown sugar and nutmeg. Compote tastes great on everything, including yogurt, toast, or as a decadently rich dessert spooned over some ice cream.
#8: Add a sweet crunch to your sandwiches
Much like dried cranberries and shaved turkey, apple's sweet addition to a savory sandwich adds some delicious flavor complexity.
Slice some apple and toss it onto a turkey or chicken sandwich with brie – you can grill more aged slices that are a little too soft to improve the texture and release a little extra sweetness, too.
#9: Toast some homemade apple granola.
Homemade granola is another simple recipe that tastes even better than the store-bought versions – plus, it's usually a fraction of the price. Thinly slice or chop some apples and toss them onto a baking sheet with your other granola ingredients. Apple-cinnamon granola makes the perfect yogurt topping for breakfast!
#10: Bake some apple chips
Dehydrated apple chips are simple to make at home, and you don't need a dehydrator. Slice up some old apples, sprinkle a light dusting of cinnamon on them, and enjoy a crispy and nutritious snack.
I love to toss these chips into a trail mix for an on-the-go high-fiber and high-protein option.
Final Note: Keeping Fresh Apples in Top Condition
If you find your apples going bad far sooner than you'd think, you can extend their life a little longer by keeping them in ideal storage conditions.
If you have a cold cellar, apples love to find a good home there! Ideally, try to store your apples between 30-35°F in areas with 90-95% humidity.
In your fridge's crisper, store your apples in a bag with perforated holes or inside a damp paper towel.
You can even extend the life of sliced apples and learn how to keep apples from turning brown here.
Enjoy trying some of these simple apple snacks and experimenting with different interesting ways to use those old apples!