4 Amazing Apple Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
Now that it is a officially fall, it’s apple season! There’s nothing like a crisp apple, eaten straight out of your hand, or maybe smeared with a little nut butter. But there’s also something special about cooking with apples – cooking can tend to bring out the rich sweetness of the fruit, and it can make your whole house smell like autumn! Plus, if you went a little crazy and bought too many apples at that roadside stand last weekend, and you’ve got some that are not at peak perfection anymore; apples that might be a little soft and not as crisp for straight-up snacking, cooking them will make the best of the texture!
The pressure cooker is perfect for using to cook apples, as it is super-quick, convenient, and will help lock in flavor and moisture that can escape when using other cooking methods. I grew up with my mom using stovetop pressure cooker several times a week, and did the same once I was on my own. But several years ago I purchased my first electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot, and found that cooking with one ramped up the convenience factor even more. So these recipe ideas below were created using an Instant Pot, but you’ll find they also work well with a stovetop cooker. You might just want to adjust the time a bit, as the stovetop ones tend to cook even a little more quickly than the electric ones.
Homemade applesauce is just better than store-bought, always! And it’s so simple, especially with a pressure cooker. Here’s what you need:apples (6-8)
water (1/2 cup)
lemon juice (about 1 TB), or food grade citric acid powder (1/4 tsp) to keep from over-browning (not necessary if you don’t care about color)
optional: cinnamon, apple pie spice, nutmeg, sweetener of choice (you’ll find sweetener probably won’t even be necessary, so if you use, start with a small amount, you can adjust after cooking)
The prep is pretty simple – peel, core, and chop the apples into small chunks, and add to the pressure cooker, along with the water, lemon juice or citric acid, and if you’re using, spices and/or sweetener. Lock the lid down, and bring to pressure. I use the manual setting on my Instant Pot, and set it for 5 minutes. After the time is up, use a natural pressure release for at least 5 minutes (you can let it go down naturally the whole way, or use the quick release after the 5 minutes are up if you’re in a hurry). Carefully drain any excess water (depending on how thick or thin you like your applesauce, you might want to leave a little liquid for a thinner consistency). Taste a little and add extra spice or sweetener if you want. From here you can mash and mix by hand, using a wooden spoon, or a potato masher for chunky texture, or an immersion blender if you like it to be smoother. Enjoy some warm! And then save the rest in a glass jar or container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for a week or so.
If you can cook applesauce, then you can also cook apple butter! Basically, you’re going to cook apples in the pressure cooker for a bit longer, then you’re going to drain them, add sweetener and spices, and then slow cook them (either in the electric pressure cooker, or on the stove), until they are cooked down into a thick, rich, jam consistency.
apples (5 lbs), peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Place in the pressure cooker, bring to pressure, and cook for 20 minutes (you can use manual or steam settings on the Instant Pot). After the cooking time is done, allow pressure to drop naturally. When you open the cooker, the apples will be very soft and somewhat brown.
sweetener of your choice, equivalent to 1/2 cup to 2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you would like your apple butter. You can use regular sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, birch xylitol, or even maple syrup if you like
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
punch of cloves
If using a stovetop pressure cooker, simply cook on the stove on a very low heat, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, or until thick and jam-like. You can also cook directly in your electric pressure cooker, if your pressure cooker has a sauté function like the Instant Pot does, although I prefer to use the slow cooker function (adjusted to “low”) so I don’t have to baby sit it.
Store in a glass jar for about 3 weeks in the fridge, and it freezes very well!
Pork Roast with Apples
Pork pairs very nicely with apples, and this is such an easy fall dinner (anytime, really). It will work with any cut of pork roast, just adjust your time accordingly.
You’re going to take your pork roast, place it in the pressure cooker with 1/2 cup to 1 cup of liquid, then top with sliced or chopped apples, a sliced onion if you like, season it with salt, pepper, and cinnamon, and cook.
So you’ll need:
pork roast, any size that will fit in your pressure cooker (cut in large chunks if necessary to make fit, and also to cut cooking time
apples (1-4, depending on size of roast and how much you want). You can leave peel on or off, whichever you prefer, sliced
optional: 1 onion, sliced
salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste
cooking liquid (water, chicken broth, apple juice, apple cider, or combination of any), 1/2 cup for smaller roasts, 1 cup for larger
Place roast or roast chunks in the pressure cooker, and season well with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Pour cooking liquid around bottom of roast. Layer apple slices (and onion, if using), on top of roast. Close and lock pressure cooker, and bring to pressure. I like to use the “Meat” setting on my Instant Pot. Cook according to size and type of roast. Also, the longer you go, the more likely your meat will be falling apart/shreddable, so go longer if you like that, or shorter if you want your roast to be firmer when done.
45 min smaller roasts, less fatty cuts
70-90 min for larger roasts, more dense, fatty cuts
At the end of the cooking time, let pressure release naturally for at least 5 minutes (all the way if you have time). Then do quick release to release any remaining pressure. Place meat and apples/onions on platter, and spoon pan juices over all before serving.
Apples and Squash
Fall is also squash season, and this fantastic side dish will pair well with just about anything you want it to. The natural sweetness of the apples really complements the squash flavor. It’s very quick to throw together and cook…the most difficult thing is peeling and chopping!
Choose any type of winter squash you like – butternut, acorn, kabocha are all good choices. Peel and chop the squash into fairly small pieces (about 3/4” or slightly less). You can peel the apples or not, depending on your preference. Then chop the apples into slices slightly larger than the squash (as they cook a little faster than the squash). The ratio of apples to squash is totally up to you, too. More apples = sweeter taste, more squash = more savory.
Once everything is chopped, throw it in the pressure cooker with about 1/2 cup of cooking liquid (chicken broth, water, or apple juice or cider). Bring to pressure and cook for about 6 minutes (maybe slightly longer for butternut squash). Use the quick release to bring down pressure. Drain any extra liquid, season with salt and pepper, and serve!! You’ll find that the apples cook faster than the squash, and will coat the squash with a creamy sweetness. If you wish to keep the apples more in tact, simply cook the squash alone for about 4 or 5 minutes, then use quick release to bring down the pressure, add the apples, bring back up to pressure, and cook a couple of minutes more. You can also go the opposite route, cook the whole thing a little longer, and the puree at end with a little butter and an immersion blender.