When cooking apples, the go-to method tends to be to pop them into a pan with some water and let them gently cook. But this isn’t the only way to cook them! Here’s how to steam apples with cinnamon and mint.
What You’ll Need to Steam Apples
Below is what you’ll need if you want to steam enough apples for around 4 people. Obviously, it depends on how you plan on serving them.
- 4 Apples: Choose firm apple varieties like Bramley, Granny Smith, or Honeycrisp for steaming, as they hold their shape and provide a good balance of flavour. Avoid softer, mealy apples that disintegrate easily when heated.
- 1 Cinnamon Stick: You’ll want to use a stick of cinnamon and not ground cinnamon, as most of the cinnamon will fall through the holes of your basket.
- 1 Sprig of Mint: Mint tends to be quite a punch flavour so 1 sprig of mint will be ample.
How to Steam Apples In a Basket
This is the best way to steam apples. You just need to use a steamer basket (or even a colander) to steam them gently.
- Prepare the Apples
Wash the apples and peel them if desired. Core and cut them into quarters or eighths, depending on how large you want the pieces to be.
- Prep the Pot
Fill the pot with about 5 cm (2 inches) of water. Add the cinnamon stick to the water for infusion.
- Boil the Water
Place the pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil.
- Place the Apples
Once the water is boiling, place the colander or steamer basket into the pot. Arrange the apple slices evenly in the basket and lay the sprig of mint on top.
- Steam the Apples
Cover the pot with the lid and steam the apples for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they are tender but not mushy.
- Check the Apples
Lift the lid carefully to avoid the steam and check the tenderness of the apples with a fork.
- Serve or Store
Remove the apples and let them cool slightly before serving. Discard the cinnamon stick and mint sprig, or you can use them as garnish for a more decorative presentation.
While a steamer basket is ideal, you can improvise with a colander or sieve, or make a makeshift steamer with aluminium foil or a heat-safe plate in a pot with a lid.
How to Steam Apples In the Microwave
If you haven’t got a basket, then it is actually possible to steam apples in the microwave. The good news is that this takes less time but the results are quite as good as using a steamer basket.
- Prepare the Apples
Wash, core, and cut the apples into quarters or eighths.
- Arrange the Apples in the Bowl
Place the apple pieces in the microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle the ground cinnamon over the apples or place the cinnamon stick amongst them. Add the 2 tablespoons of water.
- Cover the Bowl
Cover with a microwave-safe plate or cling film, making sure to pierce the film if using to allow steam to escape.
- Microwave the Apples
Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Check the apples for tenderness and continue cooking in 30-second intervals if necessary.
- Serve or Store
Once the apples are steamed to your liking, remove them from the microwave, being cautious of the hot steam and bowl. Let them cool for a moment before serving. Remove the cinnamon stick and mint sprig before eating, or use them as garnish.
Substitutes and Tweaks
Swap out the mint for other herbs such as thyme, rosemary or basil to give the overall dish a different flavour.
Cinnamon isn’t the only spice that works well here. You could try cardamom pods, star anise or cloves.
Combine the apples with equal quantities of pear. They will take roughly the same time to steam.
Add a few strips of lemon or orange zest to the steaming water for a citrusy aroma.
Tips for Steaming Apples
If you don’t want to end up with bland, mushy apples, then make sure you stick to these tips for steaming apples successfully:
- Infuse with Tea: For a subtle, fragrant twist, steep a bag of your favourite herbal or spiced tea (like chai or chamomile) in the steaming water. The steam will carry the tea’s aromatics, gently infusing the apples.
- Vanilla Bean Steam: Add a split vanilla bean pod to the steaming water. As the apples cook, they’ll absorb the vanilla’s warm fragrance.
- Steam in Cider: Replace the water in your pot with apple cider for steaming. It will intensify the apple flavour and add a touch of sweetness and tang.
- Caramel Finish: After steaming, quickly toss the warm apples in a pan with a dollop of caramel sauce. The heat slightly melts the caramel, creating a deliciously sticky glaze that clings to the soft, warm apple pieces.
- Ice Bath Finish: To stop the cooking process immediately and keep the apples firm, prepare an ice bath. Once the apples are steamed to your liking, transfer them to the ice bath for a few seconds to shock them, which halts the cooking process and retains their texture.
Steaming preserves more nutrients and the natural flavour of apples. It also provides better control over the texture, preventing them from becoming too mushy.
Hailing from Liverpool, Oliver is an adventurous chef with a penchant for exploring diverse cuisines and novel ingredients. Ollie, combining his love for local British flavours with global influences, brings innovation and charm to home cooking.