Pounds to cups: doing the apple math

Your apple pie recipe calls for “3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced.”

But what if you have a bagful of apples, the result of your apple-picking expedition to the orchard, and want to prepare the equivalent of “3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced” – without a scale?

Or the apple crisp recipe says, “6 cups chopped apples.” You’re on your way to the store – how many apples do you need to buy to end up with 6 chopped cups?

How do you translate the volume or weight of whole apples to that of prepared apples ahead of time – before you actually peel, core, chop or slice, and measure?

Here’s how –

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Spoiler alert – if you don’t find research and math interesting, and want “just the facts, ma’am” – scroll to the bottom line at the end of this post.

You lose about 30% of an apple, by weight, when you peel and core it. This will vary somewhat, of course, depending on apple variety and juiciness; this isn’t exact science. But it’s a place to start.

A cup of chopped/sliced apples (again, this will vary slightly with apple variety/freshness and size of dice/slice) weighs about 3 1/2 ounces.

Notice I say ABOUT 3 1/2 ounces; obviously, the way you slice them, as well as the season (winter-storage apples weigh less than fresh apples) will make a difference. Don’t stress if your cup of apples weighs 3 ounces, or 4 ounces, OK?

Let’s start with a pound of apples. They lose about a third of their weight once they’re prepared. (My fellow test baker and trained chef, Susan Reid, points out that if I were a chef, I’d say that the “yield %” of apples is about 65%. Thanks, Susan!) So that original pound of apples becomes a generous 10 ounces of peeled, cored, chopped/sliced apples. Since a cup of prepared apples weighs about 3 1/2 ounces, 1 pound of whole apples translates to about 3 cups of prepared apples.

OK, now let’s start with a recipe calling for 8 cups sliced apples. A pound of apples will yield 3 cups; so for 8 cups prepared apples, you’ll need about 2 2/3 pounds whole apples (make it 2 3/4 pounds, if you’re at the supermarket weighing).

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I tried this math with different sizes of apples; large apples yield slightly more prepared apples per pound than small apples.

Which makes sense – the size of the apple core or peel doesn’t change much from small apple to large apple; so large apples yield slightly more “usable parts.”

One more thing. Does a cup of sliced apples weigh the same as a cup of chopped apples?

Depends on the size of the slice/size of the dice… but yeah, basically they weigh the same.

Bottom line: if you remember nothing else, stash this in your memory bank – a pound of whole apples will yield about 3 cups prepared apples.

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Starting there, you can do the easy math to figure out just how many apples you need for that blue ribbon apple pie!

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Vicki

    Thank you so much PJ!. I’ve been looking at recipes and trying to figure out how many apples I would need, so this came at just the right time! I do have a question though…how much is in a bushel? I’m a city girl who now lives near the country and I’m trying to get up to speed on these things.

    I do have to thank all of you at KAF. I learned how to bake through watching you guys and reading all the great material you publish. I don’t know where I would be without the information you share. I can trust that it is reliable.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Vicki, I found this online in a couple of places, including a university Web site, so I’ll assume it’s accurate: 1 bushel apples = 48 pounds = 126 medium apples. That’s a lot of apples! Thanks for asking, as I had no idea, either. And thanks so much for your kind words. We’re so glad you found us – we love encouraging and inspiring and just plain helping people to bake! 🙂 PJH

    2. Helen Pierce

      Yes, I agree with you, Vicki in your second paragraph. When I first discovered KAF flours and the wonderful recipes and instructions, I became an instant follower and promoter of KAF. I love your flours and I can rely on them for flavor and for doing what they’re supposed to do. I can also rely on the recipes that are so carefully written and explained. That’s what comes from having an employee owned company with dedicated workers. Thanks for all you do!

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Thank you for your kind words, Helen! We are so grateful for our wonderful baking community! Barb@KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Stacy, I hope you get as great a job as I’ve had when you “grow up” – I’ve been here going on 25 years, and couldn’t have asked for a better place to work. Loving your job means you’re happy when Monday comes around, and can hardly bear quitting at the end of the day. I’ve been very lucky – I wish the same for you! PJH

  2. Cathy

    Thanks so much. This was very helpful. Next, could you give us tips on the different types of yeast? I always order KAF’s instant SAF yeast. I’m never sure how much I should use though when recipes specify different kinds. We appreciate you!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Cathy, use the same amount of active dry or instant, no matter the brand or type. If you’re talking cake (moist) yeast, that’s a different story… PJH

    2. Bonnie

      One cake of yeast-2 ounces raises 4 cups of flour as does I package of instant yeast or active dry-which contains 2 1/2 teaspoons

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      I do, Margo – so long as we can stick to algebra and geometry, and not get into trig and calculus! High school was WAY too long ago for that! PJH

  3. Melissa

    Thank you very much for this post. However, it brings home something I’ve thought for years: the metric system is SO much easier to manage!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Melissa, I usually do my weighing in grams, it’s true; very much easier to figure the math. But I believe most people still think in pounds and ounces, so that’s how I present the info. Thanks for your metric encouragement, though! PJH

  4. Dee Kaufman

    Perhaps I am missing something? I didn’t see where your article says how many apples (give or take) are in a pound? If someone doesn’t have a scale, what is the average number of apples to make one pound? A friend offered me apples from an apple picking at an orchard this weekend. If I wanted to make the 8 cups of peeled and cored apples, how many actual apples (not in pounds) from her haul should I ask her to give me?

    But I did find this extremely helpful and will log the information. Thank you very much for figuring this all out. It is appreciated.

    Thanks

    Dee

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Dee, there are so many variations – how big, how fresh, what variety (how juicy) – it’s hard to make this assessment. That said, I’ve found a typical medium Granny Smith weighs about 5 1/2 ounces, so – give or take, more or less – there are 3 apples per pound. Given a pound of apples (3 medium apples) yields about 3 cups prepared apples, you’d need 2 2/3 pounds or – in the case of those medium Granny Smiths – about 8 apples. That said – always ask for more. So I’d ask for 10 apples, OK? You can always just eat any leftovers. Hope this helps – PJH

  5. Paul from Ohio

    PJ those of us, like me, who never really dug math, SALUTES you for this invaluable simplification post relative this – Apple-what-am-I-going-to-make time!!!!! Heading to the store for apples today as a matter of fact! Perfect timing and brilliant blog – as always. A FAN! Thanks

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Paul, report back with what you make, OK? Always interested to hear what’s up in your kitchen! PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      You’ve very welcome, Cindy. Something that bugged me for years, and I finally decided to do something about it. 🙂 PJH

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      Deirdre, I would hope that the recipe would indicate what size apple is called for, since there can be a big difference between yield from a small apple and a large apple. Assuming a medium apple, I would say 1 medium apple yields about a cup of sliced or chopped apples, which will weight between 3 1/2 to 4 ounces. Barb@KAF

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Ro Ro, we intentionally did this math based on the weight of the apples, rather than number, since the number of apples needed will depend a lot on how large they are. If possible, we’d recommend taking the weight of your apples. If that’s not possible, it may help to know that you’ll generally need 3-5 medium apples to get 1 lb. From there, the premise mentioned in the article, that 1 pound of whole apples translates to roughly 3 cups of prepared apples can help us make the conversions. If your apples are especially large, you might get more like 4-5 cups, while if they’re on the smaller side, you’ll probably land somewhere around 2-3 cups. Hope this helps and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

    4. Diane Slocum

      Help I’m making apple butter. Says 4# of apples. Is that 20 apples med size. But how many cups of apples. Never was good at math God bless you

    5. The Baker's Hotline

      Diane, it sounds like the “bottom line” we include at the end of the article may be of help. If 1 pound of whole apples results in about 3 cups of prepped apple, 4 pounds would be about 12 cups (or 3 quarts). Enjoy the apple butter! Mollie@KAF

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