Yet another trip to the orchard this weekend to pick some fresh apples. After the last trip I made the obligatory apple pies, canned some pie filling and whipped up some yummy baked apples. So what to do with the bounty from this trip? Applesauce, of course.
Applesauce is so underestimated in American cuisine that it seems to have almost exclusively been relegated to the realm of baby food. When I was growing up, though, no self-respecting Mother would serve roast pork to her family without a side of home-made applesauce. In the warmer months we feasted on Applesauce Cake, and in the colder months we just couldn't wait to get a heaping bowl of Applesauce-Steamed Gingerbread with some whipped cream topping. Yummmy!
So here's my Homage to Applesauce. Enjoy the recipe, and be sure to come back to get my Applesauce Cake and Applesauce-Steamed Gingerbread to be posted in the next few days!
You should experiment with a mixture of different varieties of apples until you get a combination that's right for you. If you use some sweeter varieties then you will be able to use little to no sugar in the end product! Measurements and amount and types of spices used are all very approximate as well.
10 to 12 large apples (I used MacIntosh for this recipe)
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
Lemon Juice (as needed)
Sugar (as needed)
Cinnamon (as needed)
Cloves (as needed)
Peel and core the apples. Cut each into 16 slices. In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan over medium heat, add the water, cinamon stick and lemon juice. The lemon juice plays two important parts in the making of applesauce. It helps to keep the apples from turning brown before they reduce and it adds a bit of tartness to the end product. If you are using tart apples like I did in this recipe, then shouldn't need more than a few teaspoons of lemon juice. If you're using all sweet varieties, you may need to add more.
Add the apples to the pan and stir to coat with the water/lemon juice mixture. Cover the pan and let simmer for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the apples have broken down. It's important to keep the pot covered or the liquid will evaporate and you'll wind up with apple butter.
There are no rules from this point on. It's all about your preferences. Just turn your heat to low, remove the cinnamon stick and taste, taste, taste. Since I use my applesauce for baking, I like it sort of raw and chunky. Others may want to use a potato masher, food mill or sieve to get a finer product.
If your applesauce is too tart, add some white sugar. (For this recipe with the MacIntosh, I used 3 tbs sugar.) If it's too sweet, add more lemon juice. You can kick it up with some ground cinnamon and a dash of ground cloves, or not. It's up to you.
Yield: 4 to 6 cups applesauce