8 Smart Uses for Not-So-Great Apples

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If you find yourself with a less than stellar bunch of apples, or extra-soft fruit that have been sitting around for a few too many days, don't worry, it happens to the best of us. But don't toss them away. Not even the ones with the nasty bruises.

Apples that are past their prime may not be great for biting into as an afternoon snack, but they've still got some life left in them. Here are 10 smart uses for your not-so-great apples!

Older apples are still great for cooking! As the apples break down during cooking, the remaining liquid is released and the natural sugars concentrate, transforming them into something remarkably delicious.

1. Make applesauce

Even if your apples are old and starting to get a little mealy, that's ok! Cut away and bruised areas and get cooking. Once the apples cook down, they'll be totally delicious.

2. Cook apple butter

If you think applesauce is great, just wait until you try apple butter. It's absolutely amazing! Apple butter is made by slow cooking apples past the point of applesauce, until it becomes a thick, glossy, glorious spread.

3. Blend into smoothies

Older and softer apples are great to blend into smoothies! They pair especially well with peanut butter, banana, and yogurt.

4. Stir into oatmeal

Stirring chunks of apple into oatmeal as it cooks, is a nice way to add some extra flavor to your meal. And, the apple acts as a natural sweetener. If you're feeling motivated, we recommend roasting the apples beforehand!

5. Bake an apple pie

Fall is not complete without apple pie! This just might be my personal favorite way to use up old apples.

6. Dry apple chips in the oven

No dehydrator? No problem! It's easy to make apple chips in the oven. Dried apples make a nice nutritious snack and a lovely garnish for desserts.

7. Blend with soup

Apples pairs well with so many different kinds of soup! They play especially nice with parsnips, butternut squash, carrot and pumpkin.

8. Bake apples

I like to think of baked apples as inside-out apple crisp. They're a simple, weeknight-worthy dessert with just a few ingredients. The apple core is scooped out and filled with a mixture of oats, brown sugar, and warm spices, then baked to warm perfection.

What's your favorite way to use up less-than-perfect apples?

Updated from a post originally published August 2008.

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn; Megan Gordon)

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