Frank and I tagged along on a trip arranged by our local council (a great local council if ever there was one) to visit some local farms. The council does this as part of their environmental program. The main thrust was to help residents become more aware about food miles – the distance your meal travelled before it reached your plate – and to hopefully encourage local and seasonal buying to minimise our food’s carbon foot print.
Of course it was also a cool day out tramping around farms, listening to farmers and checking out the region. This year we visited a couple of fruit farms and apples were in season. Frank and I (and everyone on the bus) picked 2 types: gala and akane. We picked a lot of them. Waaaaayyy too many for us to just eat as is. Or maybe not, they will keep for a while under our house, but still, any time I have a “surplus” I think of ways to use it.
The most obvious way to deal with too many apples is to give some away, which we did, but not a lot because I’m a greedy guts. The second way to deal with our bounty is to make applesauce. In fact I had this in mind as I was over-picking fruit from the tree.
When I got the fruit home I looked up recipes (embarrassingly simple) since I’ve never made applesauce before. Then Frank explained the way his mother made applesauce (even simpler) and I gave that a go. Here’s my adapted applesauce recipe:
2) Put the apples in a pot with a cinnamon stick or a small amount of ground cinnamon. (This is optional but who doesn’t like cinnamon in their applesauce?)
3) Add a tiny bit of water (enough to stop them from browning). Unless they’re old and dry (when you might need to add more water) they will be very wet on their own.
4) Simmer until soft (mine took about 15 minutes).
5) Push through a sieve. I actually poured off a bit of the water before doing this because I didn’t want such wet sauce. The resulting apple juice was yummy. I also let the apples cool a bit as I don’t like getting burnt.
6) Taste the applesauce. This is a really important step. The applesauce might be done here – mine was but my apples were pretty sweet. If you want to add sugar (don’t feel guilty, a bit of sugar won’t hurt) add it now in the amount required to reach your desired sweetness. You can also add a bit of lemon juice which helps give the sauce a bit of tartness and depth of flavour (if you have old or bland apples, this becomes more important). The lemon juice will also help your sauce maintain its colour. If you’ve added sugar, put the applesauce back in the cooking pot and heat through for a few minutes to make sure you don’t end up with grainy sugar bits.
7) Pour into jars. If you make a big batch you need to sterilise the jars as for any preserving exercise but for a batch to be used within a few days (and stored in the fridge) any clean jar or plastic container will work.
I used 7 medium apples and ended up with about 700 grams of applesauce in a large jar. It’s kind of pink (I assume because of the type of apple I used and because I didn’t peel the apples before cooking), is really good and won’t last long. Besides just a great snack, we use applesauce on pancakes with a bit of sprinkled cinnamon sugar. It might be a little healthier than maple syrup and sure does taste great.