Unlike Caroline, I don’t bake a lot. We were joking the other day about our families and how although we have many things in common, there are some major differences. The fact that we eat meat for one. The fact–as she joked–that I’m going “going urban homestead.” I demurred, but she’s not entirely wrong.
This fall, as we do every year, we roasted and froze 40lbs of tomatoes, made and froze about 20 family-sized servings of pesto, froze 3 flats of raspberries, and picked over 300 apples. My freezer is a sophisticated and delicately balanced puzzle of epic organization.
I do this because it saves me time and money, it adds some variety to our winter diet, but I do this mostly because all this produce tastes better than the canned kind. Bring home mountains of fresh, organic produce, freeze it immediately, and you have a farmers market in your freezer all winter long. Yes, it takes time in those weeks that you’re canning and freezing, but then when school starts and you need a quick dinner, just reach in your freezer and there it is: emergency pesto, tomatoes that cook to the richest, sweetest sauce you’ll ever make, a surprise dessert.
But now, with the weather not turning, the apples are not lasting as well as they should. So this weekend, it was time to invest in an automatic apple peeler and make apple sauce. The gadget worked like a dream, and while I roasted beets and peppers (because, okay, the hoarding & stockpiling instinct is still strong within me), Kory, Ella, and Finn went to town. In about ten seconds flat, a four year old can peel an apple.
And so can his sister:
Or they can peel, core, and slice into cute spirals in the same lightning speed:
They ate a lot of apples, and Ella chomped down the skin like it was a long string of candy.
I made the apple sauce by instinct after reading a few recipes online. Honestly, I made it for the kids. I don’t think I’ve eaten applesauce for 30 years. But after tasting our homemade version, I’m guessing that Ella and Finn will be lucky to have two more bowls.
We ate it warm that night for dessert. With a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It tasted like fresh picked, intensely sweet apples. Dessert gets fancier, and more chocolate-y, but I’m not at all sure it gets any better.
Homemade Apple Sauce
20-30 small apples
1/4 cup organic white sugar
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
2-3 strips lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1. Peel, core, and chop or slice the apples. (Alternately, try leaving the skin on for flavor). Put them in a large pot with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer until apples are nearly dissolved.
2. REMOVE lemon zest and cinnamon stick.
3. Mash with a potato masher for a thicker, chunkier sauce. Or pass the mixture through a food mill.
Note: If you use fewer apples, just reduce the amount of sugar and zest accordingly, as long as you keep the brown & white sugars of equal proportion. But you can also freeze this in individual or family-sized servings, just in case you’re compelled to start your own stockpile.
I used to make applesauce all the time — not with pounds and pounds of apples to put up, but when the boys were little, I made frequent small batches to catch apples before they turned, or to stir into yogurt, or bake into home made granola. And somehow I so frequently burned it (and I really never burn anything; it’s one of the minor kitchen disasters I tend to avoid) that my family insisted I stop because the smoke alarm was making them crazy. So now we don’t eat applesauce much! But I may want to come visit your freezer this winter…
(aka Caroline’s Mom)
My husband is the applesauce maker in our house, using the windfalls and unripe and over-ripe apples that appear on and under our apple trees (maybe 15 of them?) between August and early November. Rinse off the apples: they’re all unsprayed, and of wildly varying quality. Don’t peel them: cut out the obviously bad (brown) parts, and the core. Don’t be fussy. Cut them into roughly equal pieces, and put into your favorite large cooking pot with a heavy bottom. When it’s 3/4 full, put in water enough so you can see it through the top layer of apples. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until the pieces go mushy when you poke them with a fork. Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to make them somewhat evenly mashed. Put a very large, medium meshed strainer over a large mixing bowl, and pour and scoop the pulpy slop into it. Mash everything through the strainer until you have nothing but skins left in it.
Allow to cool, covered with a (clean) towel or cheese cloth, then chill. Scoop into plastic freezer boxes, label and freeze.
Note: Mixing apple varieties is a good plan: a wise woman, skilled in pie-making, once mentioned that she always used 5 different varieties of apples in making a pie. Even two or three offer the mix of the crisp (hard?), tangy apples with the sweet, sometimes mushy apples to create the best flavor.
Fact: if you put sugar into the apples before cooking, it takes more to make them taste sweet. You may not need any sugar once the applesauce has been chilled. Taste and add spices after wards, if desired.
So far this year, there are about 50 pints in our freezer, and many apples have not made it that far!
I had no idea you were such a hoarder. I just got home from my farmer’s market with a ton of apples. We’ll see if I can rise to the applesauce occasion. I’m still craving those peppers from your last entry. xo
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