Homemade: Applesauce

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One of the things I loved most about growing up was eating. Okay, I still love that. What I really enjoyed though was family meal time. Each evening we'd gathered around our oval oak dining table and have dinner together. It wasn't fancy food, just a simple meal. Rarely was it peaceful and it was usually over before it had even begun. But looking back I feel like those moments were some of the best times. A time to connect with other members of my family. A time to set aside chores, homework, and other tasks to just be together. Once we were eating my mom would usually ask us What's one good thing that happened to you today? We'd roll our eyes and then rack our brain for something positive to share. 

Raising five kids and feeding a large family was no small task. For that reason mom's meal rotation was fairly consistent: tuna casserole, lasagna, broccoli and chicken casserole, spaghetti, and several varieties of hearty soup. Occasionally, on a Sunday, we'd have something different. Since my dad loved pork chops we'd sometimes relish a weekend treat. On such occasions, despite my protests, I'd usually be cajoled into making applesauce. (Dad thought it was such a perfect pairing. I can still remember the squirt of yellow mustard he'd dip his chop into before finishing it off with a hearty dollop of tangy applesauce.) And so I'd dig out the metal peeler and start in on half a dozen apples, all the while thinking this seems like sooo much work and maybe, to my ten-year-old self, it was. 

Last month, before the epic move out west, I went apple picking. From my harvest I decided to make a GIANT vat of applesauce, mainly to see if I could still remember my made-up recipe from long ago. Well, guess what? Making applesauce still takes a lot of work. But in the end it's worth it. 

(makes 4-6 1 pint jars)

1-4 dozen apples
medium to large pot
cinnamon stick

Peel, core, and eighth the apples. Set apples to simmer in a pot with 1/2 c -1 c. water. Once they start getting soft (5-10 minutes) start mashing down the  apples with a wire masher. Continue doing this every 5 to 10 minutes or so. Add cinnamon stick,  1-3 T. of cinnamon,  1/2-1 c. honey (depending on desired sweetness), 1/2-1 tsp ground ginger and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.

The trick to making applesauce is tasting along the way. The process isn't complicated, it just takes a balance of finding the right combination of sweet and spice. Once the apples are soft and mashed and the cinnamon stick has been removed the applesauce is ready.

Store in glass jars in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or can them in a hot water bath to your heart's content. 

Note: I prefer chunky applesauce but if you like a fine consistency just pulverize the entire batch in a blender or food processor.


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