Monday, September 17, 2012

How to Quickly Dice an Apple

In case you were thinking that you couldn't make one or another of a really delicious apple recipe because it was too much of a pain to dice the apple or it took too long or blah blah blah whatever... I am here to tell you that that is not the case! You can quickly and easily dice up apples for use in lots of recipes using this simple method.

"How long does this take", you ask? "Five minutes? More than five minutes??" No way! I timed myself leisurely chopping a 2nd apple after I took these photos on the first one, and it took 2 minutes and 5 seconds. No problem!

***Tools needed: A sharp knife and cutting board.

Step 1: Cut the "faces" off the apple so you have four pieces (plus the core).

Step 2: Cut each "face" piece into skinny slices, ensuring that the apple stays together. Now this will be easier on the larger pieces (more surface area to maintain the attraction), but the one small piece may want to come apart a bit. Just use your fingers and keep the slices contained - the pieces actually want to stay together due to the cohesive forces that are characteristic of liquid molecules, which are present on the apple pieces (look at that, a physics flashback!)...
Step 3: Turn the apple (or the board) so that you can slice the apple in the opposite direction, perpendicular now to your original cuts. You'll have little "criss-cross" cuts on the apple. Notice how the apple will stay together even if you lift it up...
OK, so anyway, the apple may want to come apart a bit, but just use your fingers to gently hold any sections that start to shift away and that will keep the rest together, as we've seen above. Do this to each section.
Now, you could be done if you wanted. You'd have mostly long rectangular slices and some wedges from the edges (look at that, it rhymes). Anyway, I mostly need my chopped pieces smaller and, if you do too, then read on... So here is where the "sharp" knife is very important.
Step 4: Break your criss-crossed section gently in half so you have two pieces of diced apples that are contained together. Remember, these sections are made up of lots of separate pieces & will mostly stay together (see in picture below I only lost few pieces). So, set those flat edges down on the cutting board (you'll see the insides of the apple on one piece and the rounded, skin-covered top part of the apple on the other piece). Use your knife to cut each of these pieces in half or thirds (depending on your preference regarding the sizes of the final pieces).
Do this to each section you originally cut from each "face" of the apple. Notice that you'll be cutting down on the rounded edge of one part of the apple and be very careful so your knife does not slip.
Well, and that's pretty much it! Obviously, you'll need to do each section similarly. Since there's four sections and it takes two minutes to do an entire apple, it probably takes about 30 seconds per section. Super quick and super easy. Now you're ready to get cookin'!
Wait a second, did we forget about the core?? Not a chance! If you don't want to use the core to "taste test" your apple, there are other uses you can consider. Try this or this! These are great ideas - seriously you want to click these links. :) Or make your own apple cider vinegar - how cool is that?
I thought this was a kind of silly post to write at first, but then I realized that this idea that it takes forever to chop an apple is what keeps me from cooking apple recipes sometimes... That I have a feeling it's going to take so darn long to cut all those little apple pieces and so, "just forget it, I'm not making that!" And the reality is that it does not take much time at all (2 minutes per apple, in fact). So this was a useful exercise for me and I thought it would also be useful to someone else, especially with apple season upon us.... Happy Apple Cooking!
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