How to Use an Apple Cooker: A Quick Guide for Perfect Caramel Apples
Apple cookers are perfect for caterers, dessert shops, schools and concession stands serving up caramel apples on a daily or weekly basis. Also referred to as apple stoves and apple kettles, these handy machines are easy to use, but do require the operator’s attention when in use.
Begin by taking stock of your inventory. You will need the following: Apples, mixture, dipping and setting tools and last, an apple cooker.
Firm, fresh picked and un-waxed apples work best. Waxed apples will not allow the mixture to stick. Any variety of un-waxed apples will do, however the most popular varieties include Granny Smith and Red Delicious as they provide a firm skin with a crisp and sweet bite. Be sure to keep all of the apples at room temperature prior to dipping in the mixture. Room temperature apples work best because condensation will form if cold apples are dipped into a hot mixture. The condensation will then prevent the mixture from sticking to the apple and will result in a gooey apple coating.
Most apple cooker manufacturers recommend a specific type of pre-made mix, such as Gold Medal Reddy Apple Mix. These mixes come in a pre-measured package and only require mixing in a measured amount of water. Packaged mixes are a great option for busy operators as they cut down on prep time and keep costs down. Other mixture options include melting caramel candies with water or making caramel from scratch. These tactics work great for home chefs or small batches for specialty menus as they are costly and time consuming for large batch production. To make your candied apples unique from your competitor, consider setting aside a mix of crushed candies, nuts, coconut, sprinkles or chocolate for extra coating. Once your apple is covered in the hot mixture, dip the sticky apple into a dry selection for extra texture and flavor.
Dipping and Setting Tools
Candy apple sticks are specifically designed to spear the top of the apple. This process can be a little tricky and hazards include receiving splinters from the stick. To avoid this, the apple setter sticker proves an easy ally. Simply place the apple stick into the apple setter, put the apple on top of the setter, press down and the setter guides the stick safely into place.
Sheet pans or candy apple pans lined with waxed paper provide a perfectly flat surface for freshly dipped apples to rest. Be sure to have enough sheet pans for your batch to rest without any of the apples touching each other.
Oven mitts are essential for handling the hot apple cooker during the cleanup process. Do not attempt to pick up or handle the apple cooker with bare hands immediately after operation. It will be very hot!
Now, let’s get cooking. To use the apple cooker an operator must first read the instruction manual that came with the equipment. This is to ensure that all cooking temperatures are accurate and safe.
Although cooking temperatures and batch loads may vary, apple cookers, stoves and kettles operate much in the same way.
- Plug in the unit and add the measured amount of water indicated in the owner’s manual along with the corresponding amount of packaged mix.
- Stir the two ingredients together until the mix is thoroughly drenched.
- Turn the temperature up to high and insert a candy thermometer into the mixture.
- Continue stirring the mix until it reaches a rapid boil.
- Once the mixture has reached the boiling point, stop stirring and monitor the temperature until it reaches the desired temperature as indicated in the owner’s manual or on the package of mix. This temperature is commonly 290ºFahrenheit.
- Turn the apple cooker off once the candy thermometer displays the desired temperature.
- Pick up an apple that has been speared by the candy apple stick. Do not attempt to coat the apple with your bare hands. The mixture is extremely hot and can cause severe burns.
- Dip the apple into the mixture and twist it all the way around until the entire apple is covered.
- Place the finished product onto the sheet pan.
- Continue until the entire batch of mixture is complete.
- Place the finished apples into a refrigerated storage space for at least one hour before serving.
- Follow the instructions in your manual for cleaning your apple cooker. This is often as easy as pouring in water, placing a lid on the cooker and steaming the cooker clean. Be sure to use oven mitts if you need to pick up or maneuver the hot apple cooker at any time.
And it’s as easy as that! The apple cooker is designed to allow operators to make candied apples quickly and without too much mess.
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