Choosing Your Apples
First of all, organic is a must, no matter what apple treat you’re making. Apples topped the Dirty Dozen list this year, meaning conventional apples have more pesticide residue than other produce. After choosing organic though, you have many choices. Granny Smith are traditionally used in caramel apples, but personally, I like Honey Crisp apples best for caramel apples and Red Delicious are good too. Just make sure you choose a crisp, hardy apple. For instance, I wouldn’t use Gala apples because they’re softer texture doesn’t mesh as well with the caramel. A fun way for to gather organic apples, is to head to an organic you-pick farm or your local farmers’ market.
Homemade Caramel Sauce
Homemade organic caramel sauce can be tricky. There’s a lot of stirring involved, but if you have the time, it’s not too bad. Whisk together 1 cup heavy organic cream, 3/4 cup light corn syrup (or corn syrup alternative), 1/2 cup organic butter and 1 cup organic brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil slowly over medium heat. You must continue stirring the WHOLE time. After about 8 minutes the caramel should start to look ballish (called the soft-ball stage). Drop one tablespoon of the mixture into a cup of icy cold water. If the caramel forms a solid, but flexible ball, it’s done. At this point stir in 1 teaspoon real organic vanilla extract. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a little before dipping your apples.
Note: If you’re 100% not down with corn syrup, I found a recipe made with maple syrup, but haven’t tried it, mainly because organic maple syrup is so runny, it seems like it wouldn’t thicken well. I also found a homemade caramel option made without corn syrup, but it looks a bit thin to me, and I haven’t tried it on apples.
Other Organic Caramel Sauce Options
King’s Cupboard makes a certified organic caramel sauce that may be poured nicely over already sliced apples if you like caramel apples in a bowl, instead of on a stick. The King’s Cupboard brand may be too soft for apples on a stick, but feel free to give it a whirl. Nature’s Flavors offers a caramel dip for apples that’s 100% organic, lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan and kosher. If your family is vegan, but you like homemade, try this recipe for vegan caramel apples. If you’re using organic caramel candies to make your sauce, you need to place about 12-14 oz caramel candies, along with two tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon organic vanilla extract into a saucepan. Melt the candies slowly, on low heat, stirring the whole time until a saucy consistency is reached.
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