October 15, 2010
Aunt Suzy says . . . .
Fall is my very favorite season and one of the things that contributes is the abundance of local apples! I have fond memories of my Mom, Barb, making homemade applesauce and homemade bread. This was especially delightful if it was around as an after school treat. I remember that she would usually get a bushel of apples – Jonathan only!! – and make pies and applesauce. She would make sure that there was enough applesauce to freeze so we could enjoy it through the early winter. I have carried on this tradition, making varying amounts in the fall and freezing it. No matter how much I make, it seems it never lasts into the new year.
Margaux says . . .
Granny (“Mom” to Aunt Suzy) was still making applesauce when I was growing up, and she always had applesauce on toast for her 10:00 a.m. snack…every single day, while doing the crossword puzzle. When I was younger, she had a parakeet named Carla, who would sit on a napkin holder at the table with her waiting for her little bites of toast. There were always dogs underfoot (Teesa and Sissy when I was really little, then Pepper later, now Rex) who got the last bite (or bites).
I’ve carried on the tradition as well, making applesauce pretty much every fall (and more…in the off-season I use Golden Delicious, and add cinnamon for more flavor). Applesauce has been a staple for Desi since he first started eating solid food…I highly recommend it for babies! We eat it on toast for breakfast and snacks all the time. You can also do pear sauce the same way, which is another of Desi’s favorites! I make it the same way as Aunt Suzy, and usually use Jonathan or Golden Delicious.
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I am a purist when it comes to applesauce. I like the fresh taste of apples, so I don’t add cinnamon or other spices. I also am a believer in Jonathan apples for sauce and pies, although they aren’t readily available where I live now. I got some on a recent trip to Central Illinois, where I’m from. A local Minnesota grower talked me into a variety called Dutchess last year and it made really good sauce. Here’s a handy resource for choosing apple varieties for different uses. I also like chunky applesauce rather than smooth, so I take the time to peel, core and quarter the apples before cooking. This takes a lot more time than the alternative of quartering, cooking with skins and cores and then pressing through an apple mill. You can find complete instructions for making applesauce using a mill on this post on My Sister’s Kitchen, where I got this photo of an apple mill. I’m curious – how do you like to make sauce?
Peel, core and quarter the apples. I now use an OXO peeler, even though for years I used a paring knife having learned this method from my Mom. The peeler is so much easier on the hands and does as good a job as a knife! (who would have thought? :-))
Add the apples to a large pot – I use either a 5 or 6 quart pot. As you are peeling and adding the apples, squeeze a little lemon juice over them every once-in-a-while to keep them from getting too brown. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot about 1/2 inch. There is nothing worse than watery applesauce, and if this is not enough water, you can always add later. Today, I used 16 cups of quartered apples and 2/3 cup of water, which made 2 quarts of finished applesauce. Cook at a bubble for 20 minutes as follows: Start on high heat. When it starts to bubble, stir and turn heat down to medium high. Stir every 3-4 minutes, turning down the heat to medium when the bubbling gets too furious. You want everything to be at a good bubble the entire time you are cooking the sauce. When you are not stirring and mashing down, you want the pot to be covered. You might think “these apples are never going to break down” because they don’t actually start mushing down until after about 10 minutes. You will want to stir constantly for the last 5 minutes, working to mash down and break up the apples to your desired consistency. Here’s a picture of the consistency of sauce we like in my family.
Remove the pot from the heat so the sauce can settle down. At this time add a little sugar to your taste. I added 1/8 cup of sugar for this amount of sauce. NOTE: Don’t add the sugar until after the sauce is cooked because the sauce will taste mainly of cooked sugar, overpowering the delicate apple flavor. If you like spices, these should be added after cooking also.
You might have noticed that there are a lot of traditions related to applesauce in our family! Margaux mentioned that we love applesauce on toast for breakfast or a snack. I have embelished this a little by adding almond or peanut butter to the equation. If you’ve never had applesauce on toast, please do try it – it’s delish!!