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 –

DSC_5549C

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).

IMG_0765

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.

IMG_8358

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. Marie

    I am 69 years young and have been baking since I was NINE! I have never, ever seen a recipe calling for apples in pounds! Just today, I baked a cake which called for three cups of diced apples. I had Honey Crisp on hand and just one apple gave me three cups diced. The cake is delicious! I would be very careful when using pounds to equate to apples diced or even sliced!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      To each his own, Marie – some older recipes will call for pounds, so I thought this post would be helpful. BTW, that must have been one big Honey Crisp! They really are big this year, aren’t they? I was checking them out at the supermarket – I picked up one that weighed 3/4 of a pound! PJH

  2. Joanne

    In most recipes calling for apples, it doesn’t effect the recipe much if you add “too” many apples!! I have always guessed on the “heavy handed” side. BTW, I also have a scale at home but in all produce departments there is a handy, dandy scale if you only wish to purchase just enough for the recipe!!

    Reply
  3. Brenda B.

    That might be a challenge to find out what the ratio’s are for other fruits!!! Will this be added to Pinterest?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Brenda,
      You can definitely pin the blog to your favorite Pinterest board. Just hover over the side margin and click on the Pinterest icon when it pops up. ~ MJ

  4. waikikirie

    You’re the best PJ…..This is something I always ponder. Thanks for taking the mystery out of baking apples….xoxoox

    Reply
  5. Eddie3958

    This is great. I have this saved so I can refer back to it. How would this relate to fresh peach’s?

    Thank you
    Eddie

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Eddie, I suspect peaches weigh more per cup, as they’re much juicier; also, their skin probably weighs less if you slip it off via the “boil for 30 seconds” method. So unfortunately, too many variables to make a good comparison. But if you try it sometime, let us know, OK? PJH

  6. L

    Thanks for this helpful post. A question that has been bugging me for a while:
    If a recipe calls for “3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced” should I assume that the measurement is for the prepared fruit? In other words, do I measure 3 pounds of apples and then peel, core and slice them or do I peel, core and slice a bunch of apples and then measure out three pounds worth?
    Does the answer change at all if the recipe is written for “3 pounds sliced apples” as opposed to “3 pounds apples, sliced?”

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Yes, start with 3 pounds of apples, then peel, core and slice them. And yes, the answer changes – 3 pounds of sliced apples is just that: 3 pounds of apple slices. It’s like the difference between 3 cups of sifted flour and 3 cups of flour, sifted. If the recipe writer puts the “action” before the noun (sifted flour, sliced apples), they mean that you do that first, then weigh or measure. Clear as mud? 🙂 PJH

  7. karen wall

    Thank you so much for the info. I peeled 18# of apples for apple crisps and just eyed it. 1# apples = 3 cups,, 1to3 1to3 1to3 1to3, 123. Got it!!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Karen, you’ve got it indeed! Wow, 18 pounds of apples is a lot of peeling – bet you had a bunch of happy “customers” for that crisp! 🙂 PJH

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *