Poaching is the process of simmering food in a hot liquid, such as water, juice or wine. Poaching is a low-fat way of cooking foods while infusing them with flavor. You can poach apples as a dessert or as an accompaniment to a meal. For the best results, select apples that are firm and at their peak of ripeness. The best time to poach apples are when they are in season, in the fall.
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Rinse the apples in cool water and remove the skins with a paring knife or an apple peeler. If desired, you can leave the stem on. Remove any blemishes or bruises. Prepare as many apples as you want.
Pour your poaching liquid in a deep saucepan. Wine works best for poaching apples. If you are poaching a tart apple, such as Granny Smith, you may want to use a white wine and try heavier, sweeter apples in red wine. Use two bottles of wine for your apples so there is enough liquid to immerse the apples.
Heat the liquid on medium until it starts to bubble. Reduce the heat and add the sugar and spices to taste. The amount of sugar you use depends on how sweet you want your apples to be. If you prefer more tart apples, start with ¼ cup, let it dissolve and taste the liquid. Add more sugar to taste. You can also add other spices, such as nutmeg, cinnamon or vanilla. As with the sugar, add a small amount at first, taste, then add more if desired.
Put the apples in the poaching liquid and cover the pot. Reduce the temperature to simmer and let the apples poach for at least 20 minutes. Pierce the apple with a fork to test for doneness. The fork should go in easily, but the fruit should still have some firmness.
Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon when it has finished cooking and put it onto a serving dish.