Old-Fashioned Caramel Apples

Fall has arrived and apple season is in full force. Celebrate the changing season this year with a classic treat—caramel-coated apples. When making this recipe, use your favorite variety of apple. Choose apples that are firm, unbruised and grown in an environmentally sustainable fashion – aka certified organic.

The Science

 A recent study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production used a lifecycle analysis to assess the total energy and environmental impacts of conventional and organic apple production in Italy. Researchers examined the impacts of the entire apple-producing process including the impacts associated with the production of raw materials used in orchard cultivation such as fertilizers, on farm activities, post-harvest production such as handling and washing methods, and even impacts associated with distribution. The findings showed that despite lower yield for organic apples, choosing organic apples versus conventional apples could help to reduce the environmental impacts, with the bulk of energy and environmental impacts in conventional apple production due to the use of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides.

The Recipe

Photo credit: Abi Porter Photo credit: Abi Porter


  • Candy thermometer – you can get one cheaply at most grocery stores.
  • 8 organic apples
  • 8 popsicle sticks
  • 2 cups of packed organic dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups organic heavy cream
  • ¾ cup organic dark corn syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp organic vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted organic butter


Wash and dry your apples thoroughly. Arrange apples in an upright position (stem up) and push the popsicle sticks into the apple core. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl half way with ice and water and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium-sized sauce pan, combine the brown sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, salt and butter. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the temperature reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a candy thermometer.  As soon as the thermometer reaches 250 degrees, remove the pot from stove and place into your ice water bath to stop the boiling (about 1 minute). Remove the caramel from the cold water bath and add the vanilla extract. Stir until it is well mixed. Now, one at a time, hold the popsicle stick and dip your apples about ¾ of the way into the caramel and rotate until coated. Lift the apple out and let the excess caramel drip off. Then, flip the apple (popsicle stick pointing down and apple up) and hold it up for about 20 seconds to let the caramel coating even out before you place it onto the parchment paper with the popsicle stick up.  Once all of your apples have been dipped, place the baking sheet with them on it into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to fully set.

Halloween, vegetarian, fertilizer, pesticide, fall, dessert, fall treat, environmentally friendly