Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Simplest Plate: Applesauce

One of the simplest things that I know how to make is applesauce.  It's inexpensive, requires just a bit of time, and the taste far exceeds store-bought.  It is also highly relevant to my latest farmer's market find: seconds.

I attended the market as usual last week, perused the apple stand wondering if I wanted to spend $7/peck or $13/half-bushel.  I told the lady attending the stand that I wanted a lot of apples and I wanted a variety of different kinds to which she helpfully asked "how about seconds"?  Seconds are the ugly ducklings, if you will; the apples that aren't quite pretty enough to be on display, they might have a bruise or spot where they grew oddly, but when peeled and chopped they are just a delicious as those good-looking ducklings. A half-bushel and $6.50 later, I was on my way to sauce.

How To Make Applesauce

Things You Need:

  • Apples
  • A way to peel the apples; a paring knife will do.
  • A big pot

Step 1:  Make sure it is Autumn or nearly Autumn and apples are in season in your neighborhood.  No sense in using grocery store apples that have traveled across the country - they just aren't as good. If it is not Autumn, wait.

Step 2: Acquire a lot of apples.  "Which apples?" you say.  There are so many kinds! Some types of apples are known for their sauciness - that is when you heat them up they not only soften, but they get mushy (like sauce) and fall apart.  Other apples, you may learn, are good for pies - they become soft but do not lose their shape.  Still other apples are best for eating straight out of your lunchbox.  While all these things are true, my grandmother's secret to good applesauce was to use many different varieties to get the best taste, and I stick to that. The fact is, all apples will get soft when you cook them and a well-applied blender can make your sauce smoother if necessary.

Step 3:  Peel and slice the apples into your pot.  I don't have enough storage space for any of those fancy peeling gadgets, so I stick to the old fashioned way and use a paring knife.  It took around 45 minutes to peel and slice the half-bushel.  It doesn't matter if the slices are even. [Note: I like to spread out on the living room floor for this part and have a guilty-pleasure TV show on like "Say Yes To The Dress" or "Grey's Anatomy".  "Jersey Shore" will work, too.]  Be sure to save the apple peels for your compost!

Step 4: Cook.  It's that easy.  Put the pot on the stove and cook the apples over medium-to-medium-low heat.  Stir them once in a while.  Mine cook for a total of about an hour, but they are done when they are soft enough to be mushed with the back of a spoon.  It won't hurt them to be cooked a little longer if you aren't sure. At this point, I use my immersion blender to make the sauce a bit smoother, but I do prefer it to be on the chunky side.  Be sure to enjoy a bowl of still-warm sauce!

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