Saturday, September 1, 2012


One of my favorite parts about home cooking is the fact that the food you cook is never the same twice. This can be both a good thing (lots of variety) and a bad thing. Sometimes you can't live up to your own past cooking. You try to recreate what you did last time but it's just not quite as good.
However, the freedom to mix things up is so wonderfully freeing. Yes, I follow recipes. But I usually end up changing things, so recipes are more like guidelines. Obviously, some should be followed with a bit of exactness. I'm not going to mess around with the acidity of canned goods. However, the flavors? Oh, man, that's the best part.
The apple guy is selling his fruit at the farmer's market, and even at $10 per bag (I have no idea what the weight is) it's well worth buying. From what I've seen he's got at least three varieties of apple. In the past couple of weekends I've bought three total bags of two of the varieties. I ate a couple, but wanted to put the rest up for winter. Success! This time around, I decided to make and can applesauce. This applesauce is unlike anything you could get in the stores. For one thing, these varieties aren't grocery store apples. One of them was quite tart, and the other was so much more complex than anything I've found in the grocery store. To simply call it "sweet" is reducing it too much. I can't even really describe it other than to say that I very much enjoyed it.
Apples like this deserve a complex-tasting applesauce. I think I managed it. Also, it's super easy. It took some time, because of the size of the apples (they're much smaller than grocery store apples) but that was about it. After the chopping, throw them all in a pot and cook them down until they've made applesauce. Stir occasionally. Seriously, making applesauce is that easy. I threw a little bit of water to keep it from burning, and some spices. You can add sugar if you want, but depending on the apples it probably won't be necessary. I did add some maple syrup to these apples, simply because it tasted a bit tart when it was all cooked down, but only a few splashes. (Of course I didn't measure!) Maybe 5-6 tablespoons?
The spices I used were cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. I know, I've been using tons of cloves lately! But something about autumn makes them so appealing. I must say, they went quite well in this sauce. Rounded out with the slight hint of maple syrup, it's divine. (If I do say so myself!) Apple-cinnamon is such an overdone flavor. It's good, but everyone makes apple-cinnamon this and that. I'm glad I went with something different.
I'll mess around with the spices again next time I make applesauce. And there will be a next time, since this is far too tasty not to make more of. I'm certain the next batch won't turn out just like this one did, and I look forward to it. Maybe apple-ginger? Or just a straight apple-nutmeg? They both seem like yummy flavors.
So, if you're looking for a recipe, it's quite simple. I cut up enough apples (keeping the skins on) to fill my dutch oven. (No juvenile jokes, please, I get quite enough of those from my husband.) I added about half a cup of water and sprinkled in cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. I cooked them, stirring occasionally, until the apples were so tender they were literally falling apart and turning into sauce. When I determined that it had cooked down enough I pulled it off the heat and used my immersion blender to get the skins. (If you like a chunkier applesauce, don't leave on the skins, cook it a bit less, and don't blend it.)
I followed standard canning procedures and processed the jars depending on their size, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. For the amount of sauce I made I got five pints and 1 quart. Plus a little bit for eating tonight. :)
Making applesauce inherently has a bit of waste, though. What to do with the cores and other bits you don't really want gunking up your sauce? Well, there's always scrap-apple cider vinegar. I saved my cores so I'm making that, too. Two products for the price of one. I know some people like raw apple cider as a health thing but I haven't looked into that at all. I just know that making this is very frugal and helps to reduce my waste stream. Both of those things are fantastic. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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