Organic Applesauce

I would definitely have eaten the apple.  Wouldn’t have even waited for Adam to name it.  So when it’s apple season — ah, glorious, glorious autumn — I try to bring into our home as many of the juicy orbs as I can.  We eat them raw, in pies, in cakes and in breads, and finally, in the simplest recipe of all, food you can eat before teeth and after: applesauce.

As soon as the apples begin to simmer in the pot and their sweetness moves like a warmth through my kitchen, I am transported to my Grammy’s kitchen where she made us applesauce more than thirty years ago.  I wonder that there was ever a time that I bought jars of the stuff!  This recipe is such a short and sweet little ditty that it can even be sung by those with a steady nine to five.

So when apples are in season in your neck of the woods buy whichever wondrous varieties you adore, buy them in big quantities and eat them until you’re sick.  Eat them like my Grandpa did, core, seeds and all.  And then take what’s left, the ones with a bit of rot or worm holes and make applesauce so you can keep eating good until next year’s harvest.

Organic apples are expensive, but I strongly recommend trying hard to always purchase organic apples and apple juice.  Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWP), a non-profit created in 1993 to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment, issues a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.  And once again, this past June, apples topped the Dirty Dozen list with the EWP indicating that “some 98 percent of conventional apples have detectable levels of pesticides” (1).

1. Wash apples and set in bowl or strainer.  I generally wait until I have about 12-18 apples, but use however many you have.  Mixing varieties adds to the flavor and a Granny Smith will pair beautifully with a Gala or a Ginger Gold or a Red Delicious, or whatever crazy named apple your local farmer has to offer.  Maybe a nice Liberty out of New England?

2. Cut the apples into pieces, discarding the cores and any rotten bits into the compost.  The smaller the pieces, the less time it will take for the apples to cook.  No need to peel the apple first.

3. If you are preparing a lot of apples, you may want to soak the pieces in a bowl of water laced with vitamin C in the form of a few squirts of lemon, lime, orange or cranberry juice.  This will prevent the apples from turning brown before you cook them.  But if you don’t care or aren’t doing too many, you can easily skip this step as I usually do.

4. Cook the apple pieces in an appropriately sized saucepan or pot over medium to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the apples become tender and mushy.  You should hear a nice simmering and low bubbling sound as they cook.  If your apples are very old, or you haven’t soaked them first in a water bath, you can add a few tablespoons of water to help prevent the apples from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

5. Transfer the cooked apple pieces to a grinder/strainer.  I like the hand-held manual crank type in the above photo.  There’s no assembly time and it easily sits on a pot or bowl.  Turn the hand crank which will force the applesauce through the mesh holes in the bottom and leave the skin in the grinder.  Do this until all the apples have been processed through.

6. Season the applesauce with cinnamon and nutmeg as you choose.  Or leave it nude.  Each batch will have a flavor as unique as the variety of apples you use, so I recommend always tasting before seasoning.

7. Applesauce will keep for a week or more in the fridge, but when we are putting some up for winter we freeze it in glass canning jars.  Wash the jars and lids with soap and warm water.  Dry them well.  Fill the jars and cap them.  Leave about 1″ of headroom at the top to allow space for the water molecules in the applesauce to freeze and expand.  If your applesauce is still warm, leave the jars on the counter to cool before placing them in the freezer.  Putting them in while the applesauce is still warm can cause the jar to crack.

This recipe is offered in total rebellion as part of Recipe Rites.

© Jennifer S. and, 2012.


(1) via Researchers Highlight Pesticides in Produce, Baby Food, Tap Water | EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™.


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