The arrival of the first apples of the season is a sure sign that fall is fast approaching and there is nothing better than the smell of apples and cinnamon cooking on a cool fall day.
I am a big lover of apples. I could happily eat an apple a day every day of the year. I can’t say that about many other foods. In fact I most probably do eat an apple a day except in the height of summer. I also love foods made with apples including apple pie, apple crisp, baked apples, and of course applesauce.
In BC we grown some pretty amazing apples with an increasing number of varieties available each year (almost 200 varieties). Let’s see……pink ladies, galas, ambrosia, braeburn, empire, golden delicious, fuji, mutsu, jonagold, one of my new personal favourites the honey crisp and the list goes on. They all have a unique flavour profile and a different balance of crunchy, tart, sweet and juicy. Some better for cooking, others better for eating but all delicious.
If you have a windfall of apples from your tree or your neighbour’s and don’t know what to do with them all, applesauce might be the answer. It is a great way to use up a large quantity of apples as well as the not so pretty ones your choosy husband doesn’t care to eat.
Since I live in the city and do not have the pleasure of apple trees in my neighbourhood, I asked my local apple man at the farmer’s market if he would sell me the “seconds”, the ones with so called imperfections. He happily agreed and now I find myself with 20 lbs of lovely organic apples ready to be made into sauce at a very reasonable price.
Applesauce should not be relegated to the realm of baby food. It is great in muffins, cookies, on oatmeal, as an accompaniment to a pork roast or simply as a snack on its own. It is easy to make in large batches. I can mine as I have a small freezer but it also freezes very nicely.
A recipe isn’t needed for applesauce, it is really up to your taste buds. However, I have provided a guideline to get you on your way. I prefer a mix of apple varieties in my applesauce as it gives the sauce more complexity of flavours and texture. This time I added about 1/4 cup of maple syrup at the end to smooth out the tartness and add a little hint of maple. So delicious.
It takes about 1.5 lbs of fruit to make 2 cups of applesauce or 1 pint (500 ml). This recipe will make about 8 cups or 4 pint size jars.
6 lbs apples
1/2 cup water (or enough to cover the bottom of the pot)
2 cinnamon sticks
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Honey, maple syrup or sugar to taste, if desired
Peel, core and chop apples. Place in a large pot with the water and cinnamon sticks. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the apples start to break down and get to a consistency you like. If you are making as much as I did, it will take about 45 minutes.
Be sure to stir as you go to ensure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom. Add a bit more water or unsweetened apple juice if it starts to stick.
Remove the cinnamon sticks and add the lemon juice. Taste for sweetness, if too tart add a bit of sweetener of your choice.
If you like a really smooth applesauce you can mash with a potato masher or blend with an immersion blender.
For Freezing: Let the applesauce cool first and put into containers.
For Canning: Sterilize jars and warm lids. Fill jars with hot applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove air bubbles using a chopstick or other non- metal implement. Wipe rims clean, apply lids and tighten screw band until fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes for pints (500ml) or 20 minutes for quart jars (1L). Start timing once the water is back up to the boil. If possible let the jars cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Ensure the jars are sealed and store away for a rainy day. If any don’t seal, put them in the fridge and use first.
Will keep in a cool dark place for 1 year or so.
Note: If you have a food mill you can skip the peeling and coring, simply chop the apples and cut off the blossoms and any bad spots. Once the apples are cooked, run the sauce through the food mill. The skins and seeds will stay on top and the sauce will go through.